Female Buddhists at the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery have become experts int the ancient defensive of martial art of kung fu
THEY’RE usually renowned for being a quiet, calming influence on the local community but these Nepalese nuns are anything but. A group of female Buddhists at the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery have becomeWomen in the monastic system were only allowed to do menial domestic tasks, such as working in the kitchen or tending to the garden, until a rebellion was held 26 years ago.
Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery order demanded that women be treated with the same respect as men.
His Holiness The Gyalwang Drukpa, leader of the Buddhist sect, said: “When I was very small, I was already thinking that it was not right to suppress women in our society.
The women put in hours daily, perfecting their art
The nunnery founder his Holiness Jigme Pema Wangchen, the present Gyalwang Drukpa instigated Shaolin Kung Fu training for his nuns in 2008 after a visit to Vietnam in the same year where he witnessed Vietnamese nuns practicing the martial art. He was told that it helped the Vietnamese nuns concentrate better and made them more self-reliant and recalling how some of his nuns at the Khilwa nunnery were fearful of travelling down from the mountain alone he decided to incorporate defensive Kung Fu training at his own nunnery. 200 nuns are taught ranging in age from 12 to 25 and there are currently 3 sessions a day starting in the early morning. The Kung Fu training has energised the nuns and made them fitter, more self confident and alert.
The nunnery in Kathmandu, Nepal
They learn the fighting kills how to perfecting punching, kicking and hand chopping during their lessons
“But then when I grew up, I started to think what can I do for them?
“Then I thought what I can do is to build a nunnery and then give them an opportunity to study and practice spiritually.”
Chores at the hillside nunnery just outside Kathmandu are now split equally, and women get to lead prayers, practice meditation, take English lessons and classes in managerial skills.
Every day the nuns put on their burgundy jumpsuits and take part in intense training sessions complete with hand chops, punches, high kicks and exaggerated kicks.
“It’s good for our health. Meditation is very difficult and if we do kung fu, then afterwards meditation becomes much easier,” according to Rupa a16-year-old nun.
Buddhist nun Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo added: “It’s excellent exercise, secondly it’s very good for discipline and concentration, thirdly it arouses a sense of self-confidence which is very important for nuns, and fourthly when any young men in the area know nuns are kung fu experts, they keep away.”
The progressive views of the the Gyalwang Drukpa have boosted the number of young women who want to become nuns.
Jetsunma continued: “Many of them say, wow, if I become a nun I can study, I can practise, I can do these rituals, I can live together with all these other lovely nuns and lamas will visit us and give us teaching.”
The kung fu nuns get to experience things other Nepalese cannot.
“His Holiness wants the nuns to be like the men, with the same rights in the world,” 18-year-old Jigme Konchok Lhamo told AFP.
“That is why we get the chance to do everything, not just kung fu.
“We also have the chance here to learn many things, like tennis and skating.
“And we have the chance also to learn English and Tibetan, dancing and musical instruments.”
Gyalwang Drukpa said promoting gender equality helps “give me great encouragement to work harder and live longer.