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Ladakh project for Buddhist nuns upliftment

ANI, Dec 2, 2004

Ladakh, India -- The Buddhist nuns of Ladakh are now reaching out for help and support. With nunneries built and education offered, a few young women will remain ordained. The Nun Association and Nunneries have been formed for the purpose of uplifting the women.

The monks here live frugally, educate their young within the monasteries and build lives together as an ordained community. Ladakhi nuns are much less fortunate than their brothers. Till recently, there was no education for ordained girls and no financial support from the village community.

Generally, nuns are expected to spend their lives at home with their parents and siblings, where they perform household and field activities, care for the new-borns and take care of their parents in their old age.

Nuns, in effect, are unmarried servant daughters for whom religious community life is a dream.

Until recently, this unequal status for ordained women was not questioned. But, now, with a greater interest in schooling throughout the society, many Buddhist nuns are seeking education and challenging their proscribed domestic role.

"In the olden days, nuns were considered an extra member of the family whose job was specified for looking after aged parents, field works and other village affair jobs. Nuns of Ladakh never had a special status of religious life. They have been facing tremendous miseries and also deprived from the privilege and status of religious life. Hence, the constituting of the Nun Association and Nunneries are aimed to provide a complete religious life and other opportunities to the nuns of present generation," said Ven. Amchi Palmo, president of the Ladakh Nuns Association.

The Buddhist nuns of Ladakh are now reaching out for help and support. Nunneries are built and education offered.

The Ladakhi Nunnery Project is a self-help association of concerned Laddakhi nuns working to revive and restore the old and dying nuns' life and setting up new nunneries at place like Timosgang. As a result, many educated young women have started joining on this precious path of Dharma to improve the learning and practice opportunities for the new and old nuns.

"Earlier, after becoming a nun, girls used to stay in their homes only and work as labourers in the field. But now the times have changed and we have got nunneries and schools for their better studies. Here at our nunnery, we have got schools for nuns and after completing their school-level education, they go for higher studies to Dharamshala," said Ven. Stazin Idthok, in-charge of a nunnery at Rizong.

"Before becoming a nun, I didn't know anything about my religion and a true religious life of a Buddhist. I used to think about a religious life and then became a nun. Now I am being taught by my Guru and I feel good to become a true religious nun," said Ven. Tashi Yangzom, a young nun.

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