Ladakh, a northwestern region of Himalayas is a cold desert at the altitude of 4000 meters approximately. It had been isolated from the outside world until last few years. A predominately Buddhism land, Ladakh has numerous ancient monasteries but there were hardly any nunneries.
Skarma Chuksit, 8, is the youngest amongst all the nuns at Chattnyanling nunnery, Ladakh.
When Skarma came to the nunnery in 2008, she was malnourished and too small for her age. She was suffering from rickets.
Skarma plays around as the other nuns perform traditional Buddhist prostrations. She tries her best to follow all the rituals and imitate the elderly nuns.
Chamba, a nun practises cycling, donated by an Indian tourist in Ladakh.
Many nuns renounced their families and material possessions to become Tibetan Buddhist nuns. But they had no designated accommodation to pray and meditate. They got a home when the Chattnyanling nunnery was built by Ladakh Nuns Association (LNA) in 2012 with the help of sponsors from Holland.
Lobzang Dolma, 85, is the eldest amongst all the nuns in Chattnyanling nunnery, Nyerma village. Earlier, she worked in the fields and on the roadside to sustain her livelihood.
Young nuns watches Indian TV soaps on Sunday in Thubstan Choskorling nunnery, Skara Village. The students are encouraged for the holistic upbringing so that they remain aware of the outer world as well.
Usually, it is the monk who relishes the supremacy and respect from the people and is invited to all the important rituals and ceremonies but now people are inviting some of the young nuns to recite the texts from the holy books, which helps young girls in their pocket money.
Nuns look at the passing Army helicopter. Ladakh is a sensitive area due to its proximity to the Indo-China border and has overwhelming presence in the area.
Some of the elderly nuns are weak and often need medical care. LNA is capable of providing for their daily needs.
Now, the young nun studies in an English medium school, which is a dream for many girls in Zanskar and other remote parts of Ladakh where the weather is harsh and cold. Often, families don’t have enough food even to feed the children.
Dr. Palmo is like a mother to these growing teenager girls. She takes care of their educational as well as emotional needs
Tsering with her fellow nun during the student one to one discussion/debate session
Nuns help in cutting the vegetables for the evening meal.
Despite a lot of opposition, political as well as from the families of nuns, the nuns were brought to the nunneries to provide a safe home. Elderly nuns now have sufficient time to meditate and prayer as their daily needs and food are taken care of.
My guide for the day was little nun Skarma who took me to the trails of nature and visit the ancient stupas which were erected thousands of years ago.