The little sis and I had a great experience chatting with the nuns at the oldest nunnery in Bhutan. We had to work hard to get to the place – an hour of hiking uphill along some lovely forests of pine, fir and rhododendrons ( etho-metho in Bhutanese ).
The trail to Kila Goempa was on the way to Chele-la. We persuaded our driver L to accompany us (little sis’s idea actually) – which was great because he had to translate for us.. none of the nuns were conversant in English. We followed a train of nuns all the way to the nunnery.
The monastery looked a little like the Tiger’s NEst ( Taktshang), clinging to the side of a cliff. There were spectacular views of the Bhutanese Himalayas.
We chatted with some young nuns – they were really young, and much like other giggling young girls elsewhere. Except they were giggling while making wicks for the butter lamps. And they were living high above a mountain secluded from everyone ( yes, they visited their families once a year).
They said they volunteered to become nuns – one as early as when she was nine years of age. Was that the real story – or was it poverty? We cannot know. It was difficult to communicate with a translator, though L really did a good job.
The weird bit was this young nun takes out a diary where she had a picture of, no, not Buddha, but a Bollywood actress. and then she shows us some lyrics of “Kaho Na Pyaar Hai” that she had written down ( some of it was right !). The music playing in the wooden room heated by the Bukhara was a Bhutanese rap song! I no longer have any illusions of nuns and monks spending time only in meditation and prayer !
We then met an 85year old nun -she’d been there for 40 years now. Her wooden floor had deep impressions where she stood in prayer, as many as 1000 times a day. She looked really frail – but when we asked for a photo, her feminine vanity came back and she brought out a colorful rosary to make things really picturesque..
From the nunnery, we went up to the Chele La pass, the highest pass in Bhutan. It was extremely windy- the prayer flags fluttered in the chilly wind as we took in the view of the mountains. Nobody else was up there – the peace and quiet was great.
On the way back from the monastery, we passed by a Yak herder’s camp. A group of Yaks were grazing on the meadows.. little sis went crazy with the camera. I went crazy taking pics ofthe lovely wildflowers.
Back in Paro now, and heading to Guwahati tomorrow. As usual, the feeling is bittersweet – I am missing my daughter, so I am looking forward to getting back. But I dont want to leave this beautiful country.
I think the solution is to come here with N and Appa 🙂