“Kung Fu Nuns” Arrive At India’s “Golden Temple”
Clad in eye-catching red and black outfits and armed with an iron determination, scores of monastics led by His Holiness the Gyalwang Drupka, who are making their way by bicycle on an ambitious yatra, or pilgrimage, from Kathmandu in Nepal, to Hemis Monastery in Ladakh, northern India, arrived in the northwestern Indian city of Amritsar late on Sunday evening. They marked their arrival in the city with a demonstration of the strength of interfaith harmony by visiting the Harmandir Sahib, informally known as the “Golden Temple,” the holiest place of worship for followers of the Sikh religion.
The famed “kung fu nuns” hail from Druk Gawa Khilwa Abbey on Druk Amitabha Mountain in the hills of Kathmandu and are accompanied by fellow monastics from Bhutan as well as Ladakh, Lahaul Spiti, and Sikkim in India. The 200-strong group is cycling on behalf of Live to Love, an international network of humanitarian organizations, under the leadership of the Gyalwang Drupka, the spiritual head of the Drukpa Kagyu order and founder of Live to Love.
As well as being a pilgrimage of purification, the 2-1/2-month journey of some 2,500km, which began on 3 July and covers some extremely challenging terrain, is intended as a statement about gender equality and sustainable living for the Himalayan region. The group’s final destination is the Naropa 2016 festival in Ladakh. Held every 12 years in conjunction with the Year of the Monkey in the Tibetan lunar calendar, the 2016 celebration will mark one millennium since the birth of the great sage Naropa (1016–1100).
“The expedition is a way of showing to people the strength of women, physically, mentally, and spiritually,” said the Gyalwang Drukpa, an active environmentalist and a vocal proponent of equality for women. (The Tribune)
The strong-willed monastics were received at the Golden Temple on Monday by Harcharan Singh, chief secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which administers gurdwaras (Sikh temples) in the Indian states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Punjab, and the union territory of Chandigarh. The Gyalwang Drukpa marked the occasion by writing in the visitors’ book that he felt blessed to have visited the Golden Temple, noting that gurdwaras along the route had opened their doors to the pilgrims.
The nuns’ arrival in Amritsar marks the beginning of the next leg of the two-wheeled pilgrimage, that will take the group onward to Ladakh in the far northern state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the fourth such yatra organized by His Holiness to spread the message of female empowerment and environmental conservation.
The “Kung Fu Nuns,” earned their colloquial moniker after the Gyalwang Drupka initiated the study of martial arts at their nunnery in 2008 as a means of self-defense, but also to instil such skills as concentration, discipline, and self-confidence. As part of their daily monastic life, the nuns also clean, cook and carry out other daily chores as well as administrative tasks for the nunnery.
Buddhist riders on eco-expedition visit Golden Temple (The Tribune)
Druk Gawa Khilwa Abbey
The Gyalwang Drukpa (Facebook)
Live to Love
Gyalwang Drukpa Leads Cyclists on 4th Drukpa Eco Cycle Yatra (Buddhistdoor Global)
Gyalwang Drukpa Leads “Kung Fu Nuns” on Bicycle Pilgrimage to New Delhi (Buddhistdoor Global)
The Druk Amitabha Kung Fu Nuns: Combining Martial Arts and Meditation (Buddhistdoor Global)