A group of 235 nuns have completed a ride of over 2,500km through Nepal and India to raise awareness of environmental issues and the empowerment of women.
The ride took them from their nunnery in Kathmandu, through Nepal and into India, where they finished their journey in New Delhi. Kitted out with Trek bikes and Bontrager helmets, they started out on November 18 2015 and arrived at their destination on 9 January.
The nuns are from the Drukpa – or Dragon – order, which has an 800 year history and is based in Kathmandu. The order has gained increasing attention in recent years with the introduction of kung fu as part of the nun’s daily routine – something not historically open to Buddhist nuns.
This change was introduced by the Order’s spiritual leader, Gyalwang Drukpa, who is a UN Millennium Development Goals honour recipient in recognition for his commitment to environmental awareness and gender equality. As well as practising kung fu, the nuns also receive a modern education and spiritual training.
“The condition of women in India is not good as compared to other nations. During our cycle expedition, we have promoted the message of respecting women and giving them equal rights as men,” Drukpa told the Times of India.
The ride was a yatra, a type of pilgrimage, for the nuns who wanted to highlight these issues. “The expedition of 235 women aims to create awareness about women empowerment and environment consciousness. We are thankful to UP [Uttar Pradesh] government for providing safe passage for our volunteers along such a long route.” Konehok Lhamo, one of the cyclists, said to the newspaper.
The nuns aren’t resting on their laurels, however. They have a 5,000km ride planned for next year.