Tag Archives: daily life

Behind the scenes at Tibetan Buddhist nunneries

Here’s a chance for you to take a trip behind the scenes at some of the Tibetan Buddhist nunneries in India that are supported by the Tibetan Nuns Project.

Whether the nunnery is large or small, there are many tasks or chores that the nuns must do to ensure that they are as self-sufficient as possible and to make sure that the nunneries function smoothly and are well maintained.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns chores

Collage of some of the many tasks of the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery in India, in addition to their studies and prayers.

In terms of regular tasks, one could view a nunnery as something like a cross between a very large household and a university or college. As you can imagine, there’s a lot of chores that need to be done each day, week, month, and year in order to keep everything running like a well-oiled machine. Continue reading

An updated, larger kitchen for the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery!

The nuns who live at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India now have an expanded kitchen facility thanks to the generosity of some very special donors.

The old kitchen at the nunnery was initially built in 1993 when there were just 82 nuns. Slowly, over time, the number of nuns more than tripled to 240 plus 40 staff so it was no longer large enough to adequately prepare food for that number of people.

To try to cope, the nuns, in 2001, took over a ground floor classroom as a vegetable storeroom and cutting room. The space was very cramped and the classroom that served as a kind of kitchen extension was sorely needed by the expanding education program.

Enter some very generous donors who made the nuns dream of a new kitchen a reality. We’re excited to show you these photos and a little video.

Dolma Ling kitchen

The front of the new kitchen showing the solar panels for hot water. By extending the kitchen forward into the courtyard, an additional 750 square feet of functional space was added.

In the spring of 2015 we sought funding for the kitchen extension project. Our donors have helped the nuns solve many problems at once. Not only do the nuns have much more space for preparing and storing food, but by moving the solar panels and water tanks the nunnery has been able to solve problems with maintenance and leakage.

Dolma Ling Nunnery kitchen

The ground floor of the kitchen extension is a purpose-built space for the storage and preparation of vegetables and supplies. The nuns follow a vegetarian diet.

The nuns also make tofu each week to supply the nunnery kitchen and to sell to other monastic institutions and local people to raise some funds for the nunnery.

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Nuns working in the spacious new kitchen at Dolma Ling. The nuns have 3 meals a day and all the cooking is done by the nuns themselves.

The head cook is always busy and the kitchen is kept spotless. The nuns rotate in and out of kitchen duties so everyone participates. Breakfast preparations begin as early as 3 a.m. Lunch is the main meal of the day and is often rice, two kinds of vegetables, dal, and sometimes fruit. Dinner is often a noodle soup and maybe a steamed bun.

See this blog post showing the old kitchen space at Dolma Ling and giving a recipe for dal.

ktichen at Dolma Ling

A dream come true. A view into the new kitchen space at Dolma Ling Nunnery. Our deepest thanks to the donors who made this possible.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns go shopping with the new truck (with video)

This summer the nuns at Dolma Ling requested help to purchase a new truck that would allow them to manage their many transportation tasks.

Thanks to a special anonymous donor and to Alicia, Margaret, Karen, Swetlana, and Robert, we were able to purchase the small, multi-purpose truck. This blog post shows the nuns, through video and photos taken by the nuns themselves, on some of their many recent expeditions.

Buddhist nuns, Dolma Ling Nunnery, Tibetan nuns, shopping, Dolma Ling truck, Tibetan Nuns Project

The nuns leave for shopping

With 240 nuns at the nunnery, the nuns must travel often to buy vegetables and other food, as well as supplies for the their small shop, the nunnery’s tailoring section, for the tofu-making facility, and for the paper-recycling section. Continue reading

Our visit to Dorjee Zong Nunnery by Rinchen Khando Choegyal

This is a special report from Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Founder and Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project and Tsering Diki, Project Co-Ordinator. The beautiful photos are all by media nun, Delek Yangdron, who accompanied us on the trip.

Dorjee Zong Nunnery low resIn August 2015, we travelled for three days over rough, bumpy roads from Leh in Ladakh to Zanskar, a remote area in northern India. Located in this majestic, arid landscape is Dorjee Zong Nunnery, home to 19 nuns.

It was good to see the nuns and the nunnery once again. Since 2010 the Tibetan Nuns Project has been helping this small nunnery with sponsorship and a teacher’s salary, and it was wonderful to see the assistance we have been providing used to the fullest extent. The nuns are very happy to be receiving support and care from us and their sponsors.
Buddhist nuns, ladakh, Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Tibetan Nuns Project, nuns, sponsor a nun, Dorjee Zong, Buddhist nunnery

During our short visit, the Director gave a warm and personal talk to all of the nuns and we could see how inspired they were and how cared for they felt. This was encouraging and inspiring for those of us who are trying to work for them.nuns, Buddhist nuns, Dorje Zong Nunnery, Tibetan Nuns Project, sponsor a nun
There are 12 young nuns and 7 elder nuns. The younger nuns looked very bright and happy to be where they are, and we felt energized to help them even more. Our focus will be mainly on education, health care, and overall development, including setting up infrastructure for an education system and facilitating a good educational programme. Continue reading

Life at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti

In the remote Spiti Valley of Himachal Pradesh in northern India, lies Sherab Choeling Nunnery, currently home to 42 Tibetan Buddhist nuns, many of whom are sponsored by Tibetan Nuns Project supporters.waterfall in Spiti Valley

group of nuns at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti

Sherab Choeling nuns in 2006

The nunnery is very secluded and lies in the village of Morang (between Manali and Tabor) at 4,000 meters altitude. It was built in 1995 by 20 nuns and their teacher with the intent of addressing the problem of the inadequate education of women in the region. The nunnery was consecrated in 1995 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama who encouraged the nuns to study. There is a main building, a prayer hall, a classroom, an office, a kitchen and a storeroom. In 2006, Sherab Choeling Nunnery approached the Tibetan Nuns Project to help develop their institution and we accepted them into our sponsorship program.

Earlier this year we received lots of photos of daily life at the nunnery that we wanted to share with sponsors of the nuns and with all the Tibetan Nuns Project donors worldwide.

Although the area of Lahaul-Spiti is part of India, ethnically, the people are descended from Tibetans and the majority are devout Buddhists. They have preserved an ancient Tibetan culture, speaking an old dialect of the Tibetan language, as written in Tibetan scriptures.

Sherab Choeling nun teaching a woman in Spiti

Sherab Choeling nun teaching a woman in Spiti

Sherab Choeling Nunnery was the first religious educational project for Spiti women. Traditionally women in this region have suffered from many social and educational disadvantages. Many have been deprived of any kind of education, and this institute is the first in Spiti to provide women with the opportunity to overcome these disadvantages.

Sherab Choeling is a non-sectarian nunnery that recognizes the beauty and value in all Buddhist traditions. The nuns at follow a 17-year study program. The curriculum is designed to educate the nuns in Buddhist philosophy, meditation, Tibetan language and literature, in addition to a basic education in English, Hindi and math. The broad education is intended to provide the nuns with necessary skills to educate future generations of nuns and the communities from which they come.Buddhist nuns studying outdoors Sherab Choeling 2014

Many young girls seek admission to Sherab Choeling, but due to lack of facilities and sponsors, it is not possible for all to gain entrance. The Tibetan Nuns Project helps by raising awareness, finding sponsors for the nuns, and helping them to fundraise for the further development of the institute.
Young Tibetan Buddhist nuns in class

young Buddhist nuns debating Spiti

This year started with 14 new nuns in the nunnery including three 5-year-olds. Along with Tibetan classes, the younger nuns are also taught mathematics and Hindi up to 5th standard, after which the nuns are introduced to English language classes.

young Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Sherab Choeling Nunnery in Spiti 2014

Tibetan Buddhist nun in snowfall at Sherab Choeling NunneryThe nuns have difficult living conditions. They often face long harsh winters and heavy snowfalls. During winter the region is cut off from neighboring villages so the nuns must stock up their daily supplies well before the onset of cold weather.Tibetan Buddhist nun working in kitchen

During the coldest months, the nuns hold their classes, prayers and meetings in the kitchen because it is warmer and helps to save wood.building prayer hall Sherab Choeling Nunnery

This year, the nuns were able to do more work to complete the new prayer hall. Construction of the prayer hall began several years ago but was suspended in 2012 for lack of funds. The new prayer hall is nearly finished with plans to turn the old nunnery block into a small 3-room retreat center for the nuns.Tibetan Buddhist nun working in greenhouse Sherab Choeling 2014

Several years ago, people from the nearby village donated a piece of land to the nuns where the nuns can grow spinach, beans and potatoes. With help of volunteers, the nuns have been able to set up three greenhouses where they mostly grow spinach. The head nun has also donated her share of a field to the nunnery so the nuns have been able to grow peas and wheat.

The nuns take a one-month annual holiday, during which most return to their families in nearby villages.

We’d like to thank all our sponsors of nuns at Sherab Choeling for their support. We still need more sponsors. To sponsor a nun please visit https://tnp.org/youcanhelp/sponsor/nuns and rainbow at Sherab Choeling

Video of Losar at a Tibetan Buddhist nunnery

The Tibetan New Year – Losar – is a very special time of year. This year, 2014, the first day of fell on March 2nd which, by the Tibetan calendar, is the first day of the Wood Horse Year of 2141.

Losar Video

Losar-related rituals fall into two distinct parts. First, the nuns like all Tibetans, say goodbye to the old year and let go of all its negative or bad aspects. Part of this involves cleaning one’s home from top to bottom. After that, the “new year” or Losar is welcomed, with prayers and by inviting all good, auspicious things into our homes and our lives.

Here’s a Losar video showing preparations and celebrations at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, northern India with photos taken by the nuns themselves. The nunnery is home to over 230 nuns. Enjoy and Happy Losar!

 

Celebrating Losar at a Buddhist Nunnery

Losar, or Tibetan New Year, falls this year on March 2nd 2014 and is the start of the Wood Horse Year, which is year 2141 in the Tibetan lunar calendar.

Happy Losar card - nuns hanging prayer flags by Olivier Adam

Photo of nuns hanging prayer flags courtesy of Olivier Adam

This year will be the first time in many years that Losar celebrations will take place at Tibetan exile communities and at Dolma Ling Nunnery near Dharamsala, India and other nunneries.

Since 2008 and the unrest in Tibet, many of the Tibetan settlements, monasteries and nunneries in India have not been celebrating Losar. With many Tibetans self-immolating for the cause in Tibet, Tibetans in exile have joined together in prayers, but have not followed traditional Losar celebrations.

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Empowering nuns to tell their own stories

Maya Angelou said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Most of us take for granted our ability and opportunity to tell and share our stories. In wealthy nations, we’ve been privileged to have access to the education and tools such as computers and cameras that allow us to document our personal stories, messages and creative projects.

Not everyone has this opportunity. The Tibetan nuns have been among the world’s most disadvantaged in this regard. Not only did they face horrific human rights abuses prior to their escape, many of them received little or no education in Tibet and were illiterate on arrival in exile.

picture of 4 Tibetan Buddhist nuns at computers

Computer and media training at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute. Photo courtesy of Harald Weichhart who spent a month at Dolma Ling in May 2013 and has visited the nunnery 2 other times to offer training to the nuns in film-making, video editing, photography, design and Photoshop.

“I was 19 years old when I reached Dharamsala and was first introduced to formal education,” says Delek Yangdron. Delek was among a group of 40 nuns who arrived in Dharamsala from Lithang, Tibet in 1990 after a 28-day escape to Nepal, trekking over the Himalayas at night to avoid capture. Continue reading

Bird song and prayers at Buddhist nunneries

A special post by photographer and Tibetan Nuns Project supporter, Brian Harris.

My wife Paula and I spent five weeks photographing at four Tibetan Nuns Project nunneries in India in April 2013.

It was an experience full of beauty I will never forget. What I recall most vividly are the lovely songs of the many birds in the morning accompanied by the soft murmuring sounds of the nuns reciting prayers and scriptures. (You can listen to exactly what Brian is writing about by clicking his audio recording of the bird song and prayers at http://tmblr.co/ZeUSItheHrQj)

Tibetan nun standing reading outside in India

In the foothills of the Himalayas, Tibetan Buddhist nuns pursue their studies. Photo courtesy of Brian Harris.

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Daily life of Buddhist Nuns, #TNPJOY

This month, the acclaimed Canadian photographer Brian Harris is dedicating his time and talent to capture images, video and soundscapes of the daily life of the nuns in India. Each day Brian will share a new photo, video or soundscape of the nuns.

Young Nun Eating

We invite you to share in the joy this month by following Brian’s daily posts on facebook, twitter, or the TNP blog, look for #TNPJOY. Thank you for all that you do for the nuns. Enjoy!

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