Culture: Her Majesty the Gyalyum Tshering Yangdon Wangchuck took part in the earth ramming ceremony of the Training and Resource Centre for Bhutanese Nuns in Tsalumaphey, Thimphu yesterday.

Bhutan Nuns Foundation (BNF) under the patronage of Her majesty the Gyalyum is constructing the centre.

The ceremony, which started at 6 am with the installation of the doors of the four cottages, marks an important phase in the construction process. The half-day programme included prayers and blessing as well as singing of Om Sangla Mani, traditional songs that are typically sung during earth ramming house constructions.

The song leaders were women from a few different regions of Bhutan, demonstrating how wide spread these construction practices used to be as well as serving as role models for future generations for whom these are no longer the norm.

Her Majesty the Gyalyum, BNF’s visionary Patron, has always encouraged the use of traditional architectural practices and materials.

Several seasoned architects and engineers from both the Department of Culture and the works and human settlement ministry have contributed voluntary support and expertise towards the project. Unlike the vast majority of construction projects in contemporary Bhutan, all the labourers, including the masons and carpenters are local people trained in the traditional Bhutanese construction.  The construction is hoped to be a model for future building projects by showcasing the simplicity and beauty of using local materials and local building practices.

The centre is envisioned as a place where Bhutanese nuns could have a platform to come together, learn, share and recognise their own potential.

The proposed trainings, which are not currently available to Bhutanese nuns, will include teacher training, counseling training, training for hospice work and general capacity building not only for the sustainability of their own nunneries but also to give them the tools to reach out to the wider Bhutanese society.

For the almost 1,500 nuns scattered throughout Bhutan having a centralised space of their own is critical for their safety, convenience and comfort away from their nunneries, a press release stated. The center will also welcome Buddhist practitioners from around the globe to be part of this unique spiritual space.

In around 2010, Tsalumaphey was identified as the site for the centre, but construction could begin only last year because of lack of fund. The present construction is the four cottages that will be used as residential spaces for nuns. BNF is seeking financial supporters to begin building the main training center, which includes classrooms and a conference hall.

BNF is a non-profit organisation founded in 2009 under the patronage of Her Majesty the Gyalyum.

The Foundation seeks to improve the quality of life and education of all Buddhist nuns throughout the country. It is also committed to the quality of education and empowerment of women and girls who are in the nunneries, as a way of enhancing their capacity to support society in its search for Gross National Happiness.

By Staff Reporter