On an average day at Ka-nying Shedrub Ling monastery, the sounds of puja rituals are heard both morning and evening coming from the main prayer hall. Post earthquake, the pujas continue but now from a large white tent in the front garden.
In some ways the monastery has been turned upside down while in other ways, routine finds a way to continue in the midst of the recovery and reconstruction.
Three days before the earthquake hit, the monk’s shedra (higher Buddhist studies program) had just began its new school year but the catastrophe interrupted their education. The classrooms were badly damaged, giant cracks seen along the external walls and large chunks of plaster crumpled from the building. The monastery grounds have been covered in tarps and tents, temporary homes for those who still cannot return home due either to permanent damage or fear of yet another earthquake. Further, the older monks and teachers have redirected their time and efforts from school to earthquake relief efforts. Kitchen workers have had to work overtime, preparing enough food to not only feed the monks and volunteers, but also the many displaced members of our community. They have set up a full-time kitchen outside under some tarps.
Still, in some small ways, life continues on here, slowly progressing towards “normalcy”. The youngest monks in the primary school have begun classes again and have moved from sleeping outside to the new shedra building. Pujas continue and, last Saturday, one was held for the deceased that passed in the earthquake. Even many people from the community have started to feel secure enough to move back into their homes.
At Nagi Gonpa, our nunnery, the nuns are slowly moving back indoors. Fortunately the new nuns’ quarters were not damaged, but several of the older buildings collapsed. At Pal Do-Ngak Nyida Mindrol Norbuling (aka Vajra Varahi), one of our branch monasteries the monks have moved back inside and their education is slowly resuming.
The question of how and when to move forward is one that concerns many of us. But while many of us are struggling with what small steps to take in order to heal, those who have lost almost everything are still unsure if it is even possible to recover. For now, we just continue, the best we can, to aid our community and our monastery in moving away from destruction.