Earth Ram­ming Cer­e­mony for Nun Cen­tre

Bhutan Times - - Home - Staff Re­porter

22nd March, 2015, Tsalumaphey, Thim­phu: Un­der the pa­tron­age and guid­ance of Her Majesty The Gya­lyum Tsh­er­ing Yang­don Wangchuck, the Bhutan Nuns Foun­da­tion (BNF) com­mem­o­rated an im­por­tant mile­stone with the tra­di­tional earth ram­ming cer­e­mony of the Train­ing and Re­source Cen­tre for Bhutanese Nuns in Tsalumaphey (Babesa).

The very aus­pi­cious oc­ca­sion was graced by Her Majesty The Gya­lyum, who led the earth ram­ming cer­e­mony. Guests in­clud­ing nuns, vol­un­teers and both na­tional and in­ter­na­tional sup­port­ers also par­tic­i­pated.

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 pro­gram in­cluded prayers and bless­ing as well as a se­ries of 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. Since BNF is through its work with Bhutanese nuns, al­ready com­pletely com­mit­ted to pre­serv­ing and pro­tect­ing Bhutanese cul­ture and tra­di­tions, it was nat­u­ral for BNF to fol­low this path.

Sev­eral sea­soned ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers from both the Depart­ment of Cul­ture and the Min­istry of Works and Hu­man Set­tle­ments have been a valu­able source of vol­un­tary sup­port and ex­per­tise to­wards this project. Un­like the vast ma­jor­ity of con­struc­tion projects in con­tem­po­rary Bhutan, all the la­bor, in­clud­ing the ma­sons and car­pen­ters are lo­cal peo­ple trained in the tra­di­tional Bhutanese meth­ods of con­struc­tion. It is hoped that this con­struc­tion can be a model for fu­ture build­ing projects by show­cas­ing the sim­plic­ity and beauty of us­ing lo­cal ma­te­ri­als and lo­cal build­ing prac­tices.

Es­tab­lish­ing the Cen­tre has been one of the most im­por­tant pri­or­i­ties of the Bhutan Nun Foun­da­tion. The Cen­tre is en­vi­sioned as a place where Bhutanese nuns could have a plat­form to come to­gether, learn, share and rec­og­nize 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 cen­tral­ized space of their own is crit­i­cal for their safety, con­ve­nience and com­fort away from their nun­ner­ies. The cen­ter will also wel­come Bud­dhist prac­ti­tion­ers from around the globe to be part of this unique spir­i­tual space.

In around 2010 Tshalumaphey was iden­ti­fied as the site for the cen­tre but it was only in 2014 that the gift of a gen­er­ous donor made it pos­si­ble to begin the con­struc­tion by lay­ing the foun­da­tion of four cot­tages that will be used as res­i­den­tial spa­ces for nuns who come to the cen­ter to re­ceive both short-term and long-term train­ings. How­ever BNF con­tin­ues to seek fi­nan­cial sup­port­ers in or­der to begin build­ing the main train­ing cen­ter, which in­cludes class­room fa­cil­i­ties and a con­fer­ence hall.

The Bhutan Nuns Foun­da­tion (BNF) is a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that was founded in 2009 un­der the pa­tron­age of Her Majesty The Gya­lyum Tsh­er­ing Yang­don Wangchuck. The Foun­da­tion seeks to im­prove the qual­ity of life and ed­u­ca­tion of all Bud­dhist nuns through­out the coun­try re­gard­less of any dif­fer­ences. The Foun­da­tion is com­mit­ted to the qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion and em­pow­er­ment of all the 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.

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