In our class on the history of Buddhism we started a project to conduct research in groups of two students on the many monasteries that surround us in Boudha. My friend Tia and me chose Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche’s nunnery Tek Chok Ling. One of the unique features of this nunnery are the different dances that the nuns perform. We were invited to attend Rinpoche’s birthday where they performed some Tara-dances that they had choreographed themselves, as well as traditional Vajra-dances that they learned from the Newar-Buddhists indigenous to the Kathmandu valley. We also learned a lot about the daily life in the nunnery, their education-system, environmental activism, connections to other nunneries and their great variety of practices during an almost two hours long interview with one of the nuns.
Our research taught us to use anthropological methods – like conducting interviews and observing rituals – while also developing a closer connection to the Buddhist community surrounding us. It was a great experience to get out of the classroom and do some actual fieldwork. The project was intended to serve as a basis for our writing assignments, as well as the creation of a website and app that will help visitors who come to Boudha and want to take a peek on what goes on in the Buddhist community behind the stūpa.
Unfortunately it could not be completed in this term due to the Covid19 outbreak, but it will hopefully be continued next year.
Some information, including the possibility to sponsor nuns can be found on Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso Rinpoche’s website (http://www.ktgrinpoche.org/nunneries/Tek-Chok-Ling-Nunnery-Nepal) and if you are ever looking for a nice place to stay in Boudha, the nunnery is also connected to a beautiful guesthouse (http://www.dondrub.com).
~ Miriam Meyer