Martial Nuns

by Shome Basu - May 8, 2015 05:30 PM
Martial Nuns

The Amitabha Drukpa Buddhist nuns, based on Amitabha Hill on the outskirts of Kathmandu, are also martial arts experts. Many of them are black belts.

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Martial Nuns

Morning ritual: The nuns practice their daily routine on the temple roof. This martial art was adopted from Vietcong women guerrillas who used it for self-defence. But for the nuns, it’s more of a discipline, rather than (but also) self defence. “Buddhism bars offence, but defence is permitted,” says their leader Gyalwang Drukpa.

Martial Nuns

A Head And A Sledgehammer: In Hanoi, Vietnam, a nun from Keylong (Himachal Pradesh) showcases her martial skills. A pile of bricks placed on the nun’s head is smashed by a sledgehammer. Her Vietnamese teacher watches.

Martial Nuns

The World Outside: A nun flips through the men’s magazine, GQ, focusing on an advertisement of the fashion brand Dunhill. Earlier, such periodicals were banned in nunneries and monasteries.

Martial Nuns

The Dragon: For the first time in the history of Buddhism, especially Vajrayana, women perform the Dragon dance at Hemis in Leh. Earlier it was an exclusively male activity. But time has brought change, Today, nuns too dance.

Martial Nuns

Invoking The Buddha: A prayer gesture performed by the Vajrayana Buddhists, who have a few things in common with the Hindu Tantriks.

Martial Nuns

Woman Light: A group of nuns in a lighter moment in between martial arts practice in Kathmandu. Many among the 300 nuns are black belts.

Martial Nuns

Renunciation: An eight-year-old girl gets her hair shaved as part of her vow of celibacy. She and her family have recently escaped from Tibet.

Martial Nuns

Prayer Time: Chanting of prayers inside the Amitabha Drukpa nunnery. From the conducting of prayers, rituals and discipline. everything is done by women. The nunnery is a no-men society.

Martial Nuns

Woman Power: Drukpa nuns gather at the Buddhist conference of the Druk clan at Hemis monastery in Ladakh. Nuns from most Buddhist countries had come to attend. The theme of the conference is how to empower nuns in a male-dominated Buddhist monastic order.

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Shome Basu has been taking photos from the age of 16. He has been Picture Editor of Open, Outlook Business and Outlook Money. His images have been published by the Yale Journal of International Affairs, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Wall Street Journal, Amnesty international, UNICEF and many others. His book Kashmir is out now. shomebasu.photoshelter.com
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