The Tibetan Nuns Project, a US-registered charity based in Seattle and in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, India, has announced that a successful fundraising drive for the Buddhist nuns of Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute has introduced some much-needed modern kitchen conveniences to help make the nuns’ lives easier
“Cooking for about 250 nuns a day is a challenge, especially during the pandemic,” the Tibetan Nuns Project said in statement share with Buddhistdoor Global. “This spring, the nuns at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute asked for your help to buy an electric rice cooker, a dough-making machine, a refrigerator, and two new gas burners. The kitchen equipment has arrived now and the nuns are happy because their daily tasks are safer and easier.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)
Inaugurated by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 2005, Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute of Buddhist Dialectics is located in the Kangra valley near Dharamsala, northern India. The nunnery was the first institute dedicated to higher Buddhist education for Tibetan Buddhist nuns from all traditions, and is fully funded by the Tibetan Nuns Project.
“Before, I had to check regularly to see if the rice was cooked perfectly or not,” said Venerable Samten Dolma, the nun in charge of the kitchen this year. “Now, with the new rice cooker, I don’t have to worry about rice being undercooked or soggy.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)
“Every day, five nuns have to prepare a day’s meals,” said a nun on kitchen duty. “In the morning while preparing lunch, we used to have two nuns in charge of the rice and three nuns to cut and prepare the lunchtime vegetables. But now, with the rice cooker, it is so much easier. All five nuns can cut and prepare vegetables for lunch. While we eat our lunch, we can use the dough machine to prepare dough for the evening. Now we have more time on our hands.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)
There are some 250 nuns fully engaged in study, practice, nunnery work at Dolma Ling Nunnery and Institute, as well as organizing self-sufficiency projects, such as tofu-making and producing handicrafts. In 2013, 10 of the Dolma Ling nuns made history when they took part in the first-year Geshema examinations.*
The new electric rice cooker, which can cook up to 35 kilograms of rice, enables the nuns to cook their rice more evenly while retaining more of the grain’s nutritional profile, thus improving quality of the nuns’ diet and their health.
“Before the nuns got the rice cooker, it took a long time to cook rice in a huge caldron over one of the two large gas burners,” The Tibetan Nuns Project explained. “When the rice was half cooked, the excess water had to be poured off—a very risky operation. It took two strong nuns to pick up the pot and carry it across the kitchen to the drain. This operation had to be done quickly and carefully to avoid scalding from the boiling water and losing the steam.” (Tibetan Nuns Project)
The five nuns on kitchen duty each day must also prepare traditional Tibetan bread and steamed buns for 250 people. They previously had to knead the dough by hand, which was extremely labor intensive and less hygienic compared with their new 25-kilogram capacity dough-making machine, which takes just 15–20 minutes to perform its work.
Dolma Ling Nunnery has also received a new refrigerator to replace the aging icebox that broke down earlier this year. The new unit was delivered in time to allow nuns to safely store fresh produce during the intense summer in northern India, when temperatures in their kitchen can climb as high as 36ºC.
“The nuns follow a vegetarian diet. Without a fridge, vegetables, fruits, milk, butter, and tofu quickly rot. It is not possible for the nuns to get fresh supplies of everything daily so they need to buy for more than one day. They are happy to have the fridge to safely store perishable vegetables and fruit to avoid wastage and save money,” the Tibetan Nuns Project shared. “Without the fridge, they would be restricted in what they could buy and their diet would have been more monotonous. Especially during the pandemic, everyone looks forward to lunchtime. Now, the nuns can use different vegetables such as tomatoes, mushrooms, broccoli, and spinach which need to be kept chilled. With the new fridge, the nuns and staff are healthier and happier!” (Tibetan Nuns Project)
The Tibetan Nuns Project provides education and humanitarian aid to refugee nuns from Tibet and Himalayan regions of India. Established under the auspices of the Tibetan Women’s Association and the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, it supports hundreds of nuns from all Tibetan Buddhist lineages living in nunneries and elsewhere in India. Many of the nuns are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India where women and girls have had little access to education and religious training.
For more information ways to support the work of the Tibetan Nuns Project and the Geshema Endowment Fund, click here.
* Dalai Lama Awards Historic Geshema Degrees to 20 Nuns and Twenty Tibetan Nuns Make History by Passing Geshema Degree (Buddhistdoor Global)
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