DHARAMSALA, Nov 13: In the latest crackdown on religious institutions in Tibet, Chinese authorities have expelled 106 nuns from a more than 500 years old nunnery on Oct 10 and demolished almost all of the residential quarters.
The expelled nuns have been forced to return to their respective families in Palbar, Driru and Sog counties after they were handed over to their local village leaders. The authorities have further prohibited them from wearing monastic robes and reciting prayers.
According a source with contacts in the region, local Chinese authorities made a three-day visit to the nunnery over Sep 30- Oct 2 and demolished the residential quarters claiming that in its place, the government plans to build new residential quarters for the registered nuns, schools for the non-registered ones and homes for the elderly nuns.
“They are all lies and false claims,” the source said.
All the quarters located below the main shrine of the nunnery have been completely demolished and some quarters near the main shrine have also been demolished. Authorities confiscated religious items made of gold and silver as well as statues and scriptures. Residential quarters offered to the nunnery by the expelled nuns were demolished and all the wood from the demolished quarters were being piled at a place by the local authorities and the forestry department to be hauled away later.
Since Oct 10, according to the source, the remaining nuns are being forced to denigrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama against their will and subjected to ‘political re-education’ sessions.
Last year, around 26 nuns were expelled from the same nunnery for not agreeing to denigrate His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Founded in 1488 by Drungchen Sonam Dhondup, Jhamda nunnery initially followed Kagyu or black hat tradition of Tibetan Buddhism but later Takphu Thuchen Lobsang Jamphel turned it into Gelugpa nunnery, one that follows yellow hat school of Tibetan Buddhism. Though Jhamda nunnery, like other monasteries and nunneries in Tibet also suffered destruction during the Cultural Revolution it was rebuilt around 1984 by a several nuns led by a nun called Choezom. Not only nuns from Driru and neighbouring Counties but nuns also come from all the three traditional provinces of Tibet, U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo to study at the nunnery which at times houses more than 300 nuns.