2015-07-06 Ladakh. Today, on the eightieth birthday of the Dalai Lama, a girl of eight was dedicated as a nun or novice in the Gephel Shadrubling nunnery, in Sabu. Between the ages of 15-18 years, she can reconsider and decide if this is really her path. It seems at home she has been crying lying on the ground, begging her parents if she could go to a nunnery. Throughout the initiation ritual her eyes sparkled as that of a young bride absolutely sure she made the right choice.
We arrived together with the Geshe of the nuns. The girl, Sonam Dolma, stood for the last time in her clothes in front of the nunnery. In her vest she underwent cutting of her hair by her two eldest sisters, a tuft remained for the later ceremony with the Geshe in the temple. Her head was then shaved, and that also she underwent with an eagerness which is amazing for such a young girl.
Inside she was greeted by her sisters lovingly for the first time in nuns clothes, she endured all the preparation with great joy. Proud as a peacock she went to the Gompa (temple) where she was received by the other nuns and Geshe-la. She sat beaming, and prayers were deployed immediately. We could barely hold back our tears when the monk finally snipped her last tuft of hair and sprinkled her with rice. Afterwards, proudly she received from each nun a kata (white scarf) as a sign of welcome to their nunnery. MORE PHOTOS »
But as moving as this ritual was, immediately after, tea was served and the tray with cookies was passed around.
And before we knew it we were in the jeep that brought us to the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, the grounds of which were crammed with tents. Here today the Tibetan’s and the Ladakhi’s were celebrating the birthday of their spiritual leader. It took some time before we located the nuns from the other club... in the meanwhile we were warmly welcomed by a Tibetan family that Myra knew well. Because we could not find the other club nuns easily in the crowd, I remained like a total westerner in one spot, phoning Saldón, the head nun, while two young nuns just went looking for them and found them .
During the course of time nuns from various nunneries came to us, we celebrated together, and we discussed everything that still needed to be done before our departure. By half past two it was so hot that we went back, but the party in Choglamsar will certainly last until the evening.