Unfortunately, now we only have detailed reports from two of the seven nunneries supported by Tibetan Nuns Project donors, Dolma Ling and Shugsep. We will do our best to give you updates via our blog and Facebook page as other news comes in.
Update from Dolma Ling
The nunnery has been closed to visitors since the first week of February when the nuns shut the gates and monitored anyone who came in or out.
Since the all-India lockdown began on March 25, the nunnery closure has been even stricter. The nuns at the front gate are armed with a spray can of disinfectant which they spray on people and goods entering the nunnery grounds.
Things are running pretty smoothly at the nunnery. The projects funded by donors, such as the tofu-making facility, the expanded kitchen and storeroom, and the new cowshed are helping the nuns to cope during this crisis.
In theory, people are allowed to go shopping between 8 and 11 in the morning, but the nuns and staff are barred from leaving, so the traffic in and out of the nunnery is extremely limited, with the result that they all feel relatively safe.
After the first few days, the nuns made an arrangement for a jeep to supply vegetables and other goods and to offload them outside the gate where they were sprayed and then left for some time in the sun before the nuns carried them in.
The nuns were also able to get special permission to take the Dolma Ling jeep to get the essentials such as cylinders of cooking gas and vegetables. They also went to the Tibetan settlement of Bir to buy tsampa (roasted barley flour), which is a staple food for the nuns.
The nuns serve the food from the veranda and everyone goes to their own spot to eat it. After their meal, the nuns walk around a bit as usual before returning to their rooms.
Tofu making is in full swing and there is the milk from the dairy cows and greens from the kitchen garden. Water and electricity are in quite good supply these days and the air is wonderfully fresh without the normal traffic pollution!
At Dolma Ling, all group activities such as classes, pujas, and eating together are being avoided. The nuns are doing their best to practice social distancing.
At the time of writing, the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, the location of five of the seven nunneries we support, there were 3 confirmed cases of Covid-19. Tsering wrote, “In fact, we have no great alarms in this area at present with only 3 confirmed cases. It’s hard to know if this is a huge underestimate. Next week should show the truth of the situation. So the nuns and staff are all being careful!”
Update from Shugsep
At Shugsep, the nuns have been able to speak to suppliers and convince then to deliver vegetables, other rations, and cylinders of cooking gas to the nunnery instead of having to venture out during the curfew.
Between 50 to 60 nuns are in the nunnery right now. The Khenpo and around 25 senior nuns are in South India where they went prior to the lockdown to receive teachings.
The Shugsep nuns are not gathering together for pujas or meals. However, they are still going to classes which they feel is more practical because no one is coming into the nunnery from outside and everyone is staying in the nunnery.
The nuns have about three classes a day as well as Tibetan handwriting in the afternoon and ritual practice in the evening.
The Department of Religion and Culture of the Tibetan government in exile has asked all of the monasteries and nunneries to say special prayers over the next ten days and then continuing onwards on a weekly basis to help alleviate this pandemic.