Young Monks of Nepal

by Ghinwa Daher

In December of 2013, Ghinwa traveled to Nepal for 3 months. For most of that time, she lived at Jovo Kadhampa, Mahayana monastery in Aarubari, Kathmandu, with the young monks. This photo reportage documents a glimpse into daily life at the monastery. 

The morning starts with puja prayers consisting of long mantras chanted by the lamas in magnificent rhythms and repetitions to the sound of a gigantic gong vibrating through their bodies. The young monks leave the puja room and begin their day with a lighter body and a lighter mind; ready to receive whatever wisdom the day is about to offer.Although their daily routines are part of the practice, unexpected events would come up at random and change any scheduled plans, reinforcing the acts of detachment that they try to implement. One example is the act of shaving each others’ heads which is associated with detachment and rebirth - letting go and allowing oneself to be reborn and head into never ending new cycles. 

Cleansing was part of the daily rituals as well, beginning at dawn by cleansing the mind with the morning puja, then comes the cleansing of the body, the alter, the robes, the different spaces and ending with another cleansing of mind and spirit during the night puja, before repeating the cycle again with the following sunrise. These practices, rituals and sounds, transform the young monks into more vibrant and brighter beings, the impact of which shone through their bright eyes and strong gazes. 

Nessim Stevenson