Tag Archives: Dharamsala

Over 875 nuns offer Long Life Prayers to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

An historic event took place on March 1 2018, when over 875 Tibetan Buddhist nuns offered long life prayers for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The Buddhist nuns came from over 40 nunneries across India, Nepal, and Bhutan and represented all five Tibetan schools of Buddhism including Bön.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was “elated and buoyant”, according to a report by the Central Tibetan Administration.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the long life offering by the nuns on March 1 2018. Photo by Tenzin Choejor, OHHDL

“I am indeed happy that this offering is being made together by nuns of all five sects of Tibetan Buddhism. It is indeed applaudable,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The first-ever tenshug to Tibetan spiritual leader took place at the main temple (Tsuglagkhang) in Mcleodganj, above Dharamsala, and across from the home of the Dalai Lama.

nuns at Long Life Offering to His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Nuns wait for His Holiness the Dalai Lama to depart from the Main Tibetan Temple at the conclusion of the Long Life Offering organized by nuns of the major schools of Tibetan Buddhism in Dharamsala, HP, India on March 1 2018. Photo by Tenzin Choejor, OHHDL.

Looking out on the vast crowd of nuns, His Holiness the Dalai Lama commended the Tibetan Buddhist nuns who had earned their Geshema degrees, (Geshe for males), the highest level of scholarship-previously regarded only for monks.

“I am very proud of your achievement and encourage all of you to pursue the highest scholarship in Buddhist study. This is the 21st century and we need to understand the Buddha’s teachings in the light of reason,” said His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Continue reading

New tofu machine up and running at Dolma Ling Nunnery

We are delighted to report that the new tofu-making machine is now in use at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in northern India, home to over 230 nuns.

Thanks to some very special donors, in particular Norman Steinberg and another private donor from Canada, this spring the nuns were able to fulfill their long-term dream of purchasing a new tofu machine and establishing it in a purpose-built facility. In April we shared a blog post with a video made in 2012 by the nuns of the old tofu-making process at the nunnery.

new tofu making machine at Dolma Ling NunneryThe nuns at Dolma Ling make tofu every Saturday. The new tofu machine allows the nuns to produce more tofu more efficiently. It takes the nuns much less time to make tofu for the nunnery and for other customers.

The nuns at Dolma Ling follow a vegetarian diet so tofu is an important source of nourishment and protein for them. The tofu is supplied regularly each week to the nunnery kitchen for consumption by the nuns and 2kg is bought every week by the nunnery café.

Tibetan Buddhist nun making tofuAt the moment the nunnery is also getting regular orders for tofu from Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala and sometimes from a few local Tibetan restaurants in the nearby refugee settlement of McLeod Ganj, located above Dharamsala. Both the monastery and the restaurants order as per their needs.

Tibetan Buddhist nun prepares soybeans for making tofuThere are six nuns at Dolma Ling who know how to make tofu. Each Saturday a team of three of those nuns makes the tofu, with the nuns taking turns to do the work. They start working at 6am and finish normally by 2pm. However, on occasions when they have large orders, their work ends at 10pm.

The market value for tofu is 150 Indian rupees per kg (about US$2.36) while the nuns sell it for Rs.130 per kg or approximately US$2.05.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is extremely grateful to Norman Steinberg and the other donors from around the world who made the new tofu-making facility possible.

If you would like to learn more about how the nuns are moving towards greater self-sufficiency, or to help fund these efforts, please contact us at info@tnp.org or donate at https://tnp.org/youcanhelp/donate/.

All photos are courtesy of Venerable Delek Yangdron.

nun making tofu at Dolma Ling Nunnery

Giving thanks: What our supporters say about the Tibetan Nuns Project

Through our online survey many people from around the world have shared their stories about how they learned about the Tibetan Nuns Project. They’ve also told us why the nuns and the Tibetan Nuns Project are important in their lives.

5 Tibetan Buddhist nuns hold a thank you sign in Tibetan and EnglishWe are so grateful to everyone who have shared their thoughts and ideas with us. Many of you have given us permission to share your words with a wider audience.

So today, in honor of US Thanksgiving, we give thanks to all our supporters around the world and share a small selection of their stories and words of kindness.

Sue in Alaska wrote: “My husband and I have been very pleased with the Tibetan Nuns Project as an organization over the years… We were fortunate to be able to travel to Dharamsala in 2006 with the Tibetan Nuns Project. It was an extraordinary trip and being able to meet the nun we had been sponsoring for over 8 years was an awesome experience. She showed us her room at the old Shugsep Nunnery and we shared photos from our home in Alaska with her. We really appreciated the work that TNP did to make the trip possible. In December 2010, we returned to Dharamsala for the inauguration of the new Shugsep Nunnery, presided over by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It was for us a once-in-a-life time experience. I support the Tibetan Nuns Project because my husband and I have seen the incredible work that TNP has done to benefit the nuns and the larger Tibetan refugee community of India. With a modest number of staff, TNP has accomplished so much, including the beautiful new nunneries of Dolma Ling and Shugsep.” Continue reading

One of the first Geshema nuns: The Story of Venerable Delek Wangmo

Venerable Delek Wangmo’s journey to the Geshema exams has been a long, arduous and sometimes dusty one.

She is one of the first batch of Tibetan nuns who are sitting the 4-part exams for the Geshema degree, equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. The culmination of 17 years of rigorous study, this is  a level of scholarship and Buddhist training that was previously almost exclusively available to men.

Here is her story.

Venerable Delek Wangmo smiling

Venerable Delek Wangmo in her room at Dolma Ling Nunnery. This photo and the photograph below are both courtesy of Brian Harris.

Continue reading

Tibetan Nuns in India Close to Earning Highest Buddhist Degrees

A group of Tibetan nuns have passed the halfway mark toward a historic milestone: winning the equivalent of a Buddhist doctorate degree, until recently almost exclusively reserved only for men.

In May, 22 nuns passed through the second stage of examinations for a “Geshema” degree, the female equivalent of a Geshe degree. The examination process began in May, 2013.

Three senior nuns awaiting their turns to debate during the 2014 Geshema examinations

Three senior nuns awaiting their turns to debate during the 2014 Geshema examinations

Continue reading

A Day in the Life of Tibetan Buddhist Nuns

Here’s your ticket to India…

With these two videos you can sit back, relax and explore the sights and sounds of life at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, located near Dharamsala in northern India.

The photos of Tibetan Buddhist nuns in the video and the soundscape below are courtesy of Brian Harris. We hope you enjoy this bit of armchair travelling.

Wild Plum-headed parakeets come to Dolma Ling Nunnery for food during the cold months

Continue reading

Nine nuns receive nursing training at Delek Hospital

On October 31, 2013 nine nuns from 7 different nunneries formally completed one and a half month’s of nursing training at the Tibetan Delek Hospital in Dharamsala, India and were honoured at a special closing ceremony at the hospital.

closing ceremony 9 nuns at receive nurse training at Delek Hospital

The participants with health secretary Sonam Choephel Shosur and Mr Dawa Phunkyi, member of parliament and chief administrator of Tibetan Delek Hospital.

The training was organised by the hospital as part of its programme to improve public health. The nine nuns taking part in the training came from Dolma Ling, Gaden Choeling, Jamyang Choeling and four other nunneries.

The chief guest at the closing ceremony was Health Secretary Sonam Choephel Shosur. Speaking at the event, Mr Shosur said that this training was an innovative way of empowering Tibetan women, in line with the 14th Kashag’s three principles of unity, innovation and self-reliance. Continue reading

208 Tibetan Buddhist Nuns Gather For Debate

On October 4th, 208 Tibetan Buddhist nuns from 8 nunneries in India and Nepal gathered at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute near Dharamsala, India for the start of the month-long Jang Gonchoe debate session.

The nuns have just sent the following photographs showing the start of the event.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns arriving at debate session at Dolma Ling nunnery Oct 2013 Tibetan Nuns Project Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery debate 2013 Tibetan Nuns Project

The nuns have come from the following nunneries:

  • Khachoe Gakyi Ling Nunnery in Nepal
  • Thukje Choling Nunnery in Nepal
  • Nangchoe Teney Nunnery in Kinnaur, northern India
  • Dhongyue Gatseling in Tashi Jong, India
  • Jamyang Choeling Nunnery in Dharamsala, India
  • Jangchub Choeling Nunnery in Mundgod, south India
  • Geden Choeling Nunnery in McLeod Ganj, Dharamsala, India and
  • Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, near Dharamsala, which is the host nunnery for this year’s annual Jang Gonchoe debate session.

This brings the number of nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery to over 450 for this very special month-long event.

opening of Jang Gonchoe debate session

start of Tibetan Buddhist debate session Oct 2013 Tibetan Nuns Project

The chief guest for the Jang Gonchoe is Mr. Pema Chonjor, Kalon (Minister) of the Department of Religion for the Tibetan Government.

Monastic debate is of critical importance in traditional Tibetan Buddhist learning. Through debate, the nuns test and consolidate their classroom learning with the motivation of ending suffering for all sentient beings.

The Jang Gonchoe debate session provides a tremendous opportunity for the nuns to practice this ancient form of learning and for many, it an essential component of working towards their Geshema degree, equivalent to a PhD in Tibetan Buddhism.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns in debate courtyard with new roof

As you can see from the photos, the debate courtyard at Dolma Ling nunnery is a wonderful space where the nuns can debate year-round, regardless of the weather and the season. The photos clearly show the new metal roof that will protect the nuns from the hot Indian sun, the torrential monsoon rains and the other extreme weather in the region.

The Tibetan Nuns Project is extremely grateful to all our supporters who have helped make this event possible through the funding of scholarships to enable nuns to attend, the funding of the creation of the debate courtyard space and also the funders for the debate courtyard roof.

The former soft-cover roof for the courtyard was destroyed in extreme weather. In order to have a new roof in place in time for the start of this event, the Tibetan Nuns Project took out a loan and rushed to create a permanent metal roof for the courtyard.

Tibetan Buddhist nuns at Dolma Ling working to build the new roof for the debate courtyard. Tibetan Nuns Project

As with all the construction projects at Dolma Ling Nunnery, such as the retreat huts and the roof of the debate courtyard, the nuns themselves work tirelessly. This is one of many photos showing the nuns working to get the new permanent roof ready for the start of the Jang Gonchoe debate session on October 4th.

We are still seeking support for both scholarships and the roof fund.

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A Tibetan Buddhist nun helps build roof for debate courtyard at Dolma Ling Nunnery  Tibetan Nuns Project

A Tibetan Buddhist nun helps build roof for debate courtyard at Dolma Ling Nunnery. To complete the project in time for the annual debate event, the Tibetan Nuns Project had to take a loan. We are seeking donations to help with our roof fund.

Background:
The Tibetan Nuns Project was established over 2 decades ago to support a tremendous influx of nuns escaping from Tibet in search of religious and educational freedom. Ranging in age from early teens to mid-80s, they come from all parts of Tibet and from many different backgrounds. Many nuns suffered severely from their long, arduous and often dangerous escape to India. In most cases, the nuns have arrived without money or possessions to a community already struggling to support itself. These women wish nothing more than to live, study, practice, and teach in accordance with their spiritual beliefs.

nuns working on metal roof debate courtyard Tibetan Nuns Project

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

A Tibetan Buddhist Nun’s Story

The following story was originally printed in the Winter 2012/2013 Tibet Foundation Newsletter. The nun’s name was changed to protect her and her family. The nun was born in Dhir in Kham in 1986 and is now living and studying at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute in India. This nunnery was founded and is supported by Tibetan Nuns Project donors.

My name is Dolma and I was born and brought up in Dhir in Kham Province in eastern Tibet. My family consists of my father and two brothers and three younger sisters. My mother died 13 years ago after giving birth to my youngest brother. She had complications during her delivery.

Tibetan Buddhist nun's colourful waist sashes

My eldest brother is married and is living with his wife at our house. One of my younger sisters is going to a school in Lhasa and the other two sisters are at home. They help our father in the fields as well as with household work. Continue reading