March 15, 2011
Last Sunday NPR's Weekend Edition program featured an interview with Ani Choying Drolma--otherwise known as Nepal's "Singing Nun." Drolma, a Tibetan Buddhist nun from Kathmandu, has become an international sensation--touring the world and performing traditional Buddhist chants and songs in the U.S., Brazil, China, Singapore, Russia, and France.
During the interview Drolma discusses how her abusive father drove her to join a Buddhist monastery, her love of country music legend Bonnie Raitt, and the advice Drolma's teacher, Tulku Urgyen, gave her when Buddhists criticized her for singing traditional Tibetan Buddhist songs in public. Later in the interview, friends of Drolma's discuss the tremendous impact that she has had on the community:
NPR host: In Kathmandu, everyone knows Ani Choying Drolma. When she is in town, it is nearly impossible to see her. She supports more than a dozen charities through her Nuns Welfare Foundation, shes building a new kidney hospital, and she runs a boarding school for girls. Judith Amsitz, an old friend, believes Ani has helped to bring nuns out of the shadows.
Judith Amsitz: Shes a very visible nun and maybe shes making other nuns visible, too. I mean even the fact that for many years shes driven her own car. I mean when she started driving around, there werent even that many women driving, let alone that, you know, nuns driving. So shes not afraid at all to break convention.
NPR host: Ani-La, as her junior nuns call her, makes it a point to break convention. She sees her music, and its profits, as a vehicle to make opportunities for women and girls. In 2000, she founded The Arya Tara School, the first school in Nepal to offer both Western and traditional Tibetan studies to nuns.
Watch Drolma perform in Munich in the video below and then check out "Topping the Charts for Freedom," Tricycle's Fall 2009 interview with the famed singiing nun.