Monday, September 2, 2013

From Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery

The following article was originally featured in the May 2013 issue of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery Newsletter. On April 18, 2013, the main temple at DGL underwent a consecration ceremony, which was officiated by Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche with Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, Kyabje Dugu Choegyal Rinpoche and other lamas and monks including five togdens from Khampagar Monastery and the monks of Jangchub Jong Monastery. The nuns of DGL displayed their confidence in ritual by enacting the roles of chant leader, sacristan, and musicians.

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo with monastics after Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava Puja on
day three of temple consecration

Temple Consecration & Celebration

The following is a compilation of accounts written by various nuns. Their words have remained unedited as to showcase their true voices during this momentous occasion.

How lucky we are! It has taken some years to build our temple and finally the opportunity came for consecration by His Eminence Khamtrul Rinpoche with H.E Dorzong Rinpoche, H.E Choegyal Rinpoche and some other tulkus. All nuns were very busy up to this day and everyone very excited. The temple has been very nicely painted from inside and outside. It had also been beautifully decorated. On the morning of April 18th we were ready to welcome H.E. the 9th Khamtrul Rinpoche, Shedrup Nyima, the Spiritual Director of our nunnery.
All the nuns were wearing ceremonial dress for the occasion and playing cymbals and trumpets. He was given a very warm welcome and we escorted him to the temple where he cut the ribbon and did some auspicious prayers outside the new temple’s door and then we all went inside together. Later Jetsunma and nuns offered mandala to our guru for Long Life. Then we offered sweet rice to Rinpoche and all the others.

After these offerings we started our Vajrasattva Puja. We were very happy to join the puja because this is first time to celebrate puja with our root guru in our nunnery. We tried to lead our puja to the best of our ability. Ani Jigme Chodron was the Umze – chant leader – she did very well. It was her first time to lead chants with monks. Although she was feeling shy on this day, her voice was steady when we do the puja.

Now the three statues in the temple are blessed. We were very happy that from now on the temple was blessed by great Rinpoches, Tulkus, Togdens, and Khenpos. It was a star puja! I love my temple. All the Rinpoches, Tulkus and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo were highly pleased with our performance.

Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dorzong Rinpoche, Chogyal Rinpoche, and some of the Togdens stayed overnight in our temple. We were so lucky that they accepted our request.

I was the chanting leader (Umze) at that time. I felt so worry of that and I thought how is it going to happen. Because I never done before. It was my first time to be Umze with my root guru and monks. At first I was little bit nervous. Suddenly I thought I am very lucky because I got a very good opportunity to do puja with my guru. When I thought this I felt very happy and comfortable. Therefore my voice was stronger than before.

-Jigme Chodron

Next day on the 19th April there was a celebration of the Consecration. Nearly 1,000 people had been invited and sitting arrangement had been made for all, with the Rinpoches and VIPS sitting on the porch outside the huge doors of the temple and the rest down below on chairs kept in row. We were honoured that Kalon Pema Chinjor (Minister for Religion & Culture) and Rinchen Khandro Choegyal (Director of Tibetan Nuns Project) were in attendance and gave speeches.

The celebration started with Ven. Jetsunma’s speech welcoming everyone. She thanked first our root guru and other people. She gave a brief history of DGL nunnery, explained what made her to set up the nunnery here, how she raised funds for building it, who all were involved in its construction and she explained how many difficulties to build our nunnery together with the nunnery aims and objectives. She was loudly cheered by the audience when she finished her speech.

Both Rinchen Khandro and Kalon Pema Chinjor spoke about how much knowledge is useful to our life. Then H.E. Dorzong Rinpoche gave his long speech. He spoke of Jetsunma’s life story.

Finally, H.E. Khamtrul Rinpoche was invited to deliver his speech and bless the people gathered in the courtyard. He said in his address how to go about the future plans of the DGL nunnery. He also gave some important pieces of advice to the nuns reminding us that it is important to not just study but to practice whatever we study. We need to train our minds. If we have lots of material things we do not get happiness but if we train our minds then we get inner happiness. He thanked Jetsunma for establishing this beautiful nunnery for the benefit of girls from the Himalayan region. We felt so happy listening to him. Whatever he said is so very useful for our present and future.

Rinpoches enjoying the play.
After the speeches, then it was time for lunch. At 1:30 p.m. all assembled once again in the courtyard. Then there was programme presented by the DGL nuns. The first item was the Dakini dance. The first dance was only five nuns. They are looking very nice because they are wearing the brocade Khandro-ma dress. The next dance was with sixteen Dakini nuns. Everybody liked it.

The Rinpoches said that we looked like we had been doing this dance for a long time but we had just learned it and this was our first time doing it in public.

Then there was a short play by the nuns relating to the Buddha’s life and his stepmother, Mahaprajapati, the first ordained nun of the Sangha. It was quite a moving performance.

The nuns also performed a very funny play where they were trying to get the attention of a nun who had gone into samadhi. Everybody laughed a lot.

After thinking a lot, I decided to learn the Dakini dance. Many nuns volunteered but only thirteen were chosen. First I worried, then I thought I will offer this dance to my guru. Very calm I was very happy to my lamas and everyone. This was my first time to show the Dakini dance. I am so grateful to offer the Dakini dance to my Root Guru, Jetsunma and all the people who came to see. I was so happy of that.

-Samten Chodron

This was followed by a scene about the Buddha. The Rinpoches and everybody stood when the Buddha walked in. It was very special. Our Gen la, Tsultrim Zangmo, who guided us with these plays made a special hat of black beads for the Buddha’s hair. She asked many tailors, they could not help. So she made one herself, it took her a long time to do.

Then there was an exciting philosophical debate. Our debate teacher is Gen Ngawang Losal from Khampagar Monastery.

Tsog, or blessed food offerings, from puja
Finally the function came to an end and all the visitors were invited for tea on the other side of the temple. They were all given packets of Tsog (blessed food offerings) for them.

All people enjoyed and it was very auspicious day. All nuns did very well and all peoples were very happy. All kind of programs which we made went very well. It was kind of our Genlas who helped us in every way.

After our program finish on the third day we have the special puja of Guru Padmasambhava in our new temple for all sentient beings. On that day it was only our nuns attending and after the puja we got blessing from Jetsunma and we have our photo taken with Jetsunma.

I played the role of the Buddha. I was happy to act as the Buddha. I was feeling so good. I felt as if the Buddha himself was helping me to behave and speak the way I did on that day.

-Sherab Tsomo

I was scared at the beginning of the Buddha play but after some time I was fine. When I was saying the food prayer I did not even notice anything around me. I was feeling very light calm and happy. I was thinking only of the Buddha and even after the play was over I stayed in that very light feeling of being with the Buddha. I wanted to stay like that all the time.

-Tsewang Chodron


Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo

Tenzin Palmo spent eighteen years practicing in the remote Himalayan region of Lahaul. In 1973 she traveled to Hong Kong to receive the bhiksuni ordination. She is the founder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling, a monastery for the training of togdenmas (female yogic practitioners) near the community of Tashi Jong in northern India. Her story has been documented in A Cave in the Snow. She is the author of Reflections On A Mountain Lake: Teachings on Practical Buddhism.


  1. How auspicious to know of your work, of the consecration ceremony; to read the words of the nuns. My sister visited wit you this past February; I felt the vibrations and fell those vibration when I hear about you or read about your work. Thank you.

  2. Wonderful to read of this great event. I hope someone has made a video recording of the important features on those three days, and that is available.
    We very much wanted to be there and were told that we would be informed when we were at the Nunnery in 2012 autumn.. Somehow that did not happen. We do feel sad that we were not there.
    With all our love to our beloved Jetsunma and all the nuns.