New Delhi, September 1, 2011
"Kung Fu Nuns" is the intriguing title of a documentary film which will be telecast on BBC World News on Saturday, 3rd September at 10:00 am and 11:00 PM with repeat telecasts on Sunday 4th of September at 4 p.m and 11 p.m. Directed by Indian documentary film director Chandramouli Basu, this 22 minute film by 24 Frames is produced by Arjun Pandey and Ambica Kapoor.The documentary is a part of the TVE (Television for the Environment) Life series on the BBC World News.
This is the story of an incredible transformation taking place among Buddhist nuns in some Himalayan communities. The film shows the struggle of a group of nuns of the Drukpa lineage who break centuries of tradition to cross barriers of male dominance which have excluded them from some practices and learning, and kept them secondary to the monks.
Their cause has been decisively pushed by one man - His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the Drukpas.No other master of Tibetan Buddhism has done what he has - given nuns a status equal to monks in his order- through training them personally in higher scriptures and a range of secular skills,including Kung Fu.
While Kung Fu may be a familiar sight in China or in martial arts movies, it was never before a part of the practice of Buddhist nuns. His Holiness has encouraged the nuns to perform ceremonies that have been the exclusive domain of men so far including the 'Dance of the Dragons'. This dance has typically been performed only by all-male teams in the Himalayan traditions.
The film is told through the eyes of Kunzang, a 29 year old nun. They are rehearsing to perform a spectacular Dragon Dance. For the 10 nuns who have to move each unwieldy, tubular dragon in coordination with the beating drums, the task requires technique, concentration and determination. For the Drukpas, the Dragon Dance is more than just an auspicious dance. It is a way to showcase their commitment to women's empowerment.
Talking about the film, Arjun Pandey, Producer and CEO, Twenty Four Frames said,"Women have always been the neglected lot across the globe. But the scenario is now fast changing. There is a rapid transformation taking place. This transformation of the Nuns in Ladakh is history in the making. The hitherto male bastion is fast witnessing a positive change and we are glad to be the ones bringing it to the entire world." Speaking further on the film Arjun said, "it's a poignant story through Kunzang, the protagonist brought alive by the amazing colors and visuals of Buddhist culture and tradition."
Besides this, the nuns must paint and prepare their nunnery to receive thousands of visitors who would be coming in just a few weeks for a huge event - the Annual Drukpa Council. People from all over the world and top masters of the Drukpa Lineage attend the Council. The nuns have to show all the visitors that despite the held belief that women cannot achieve this, they are more than equal to the task.
Set against the starkly beautiful Ladakh mountains, in the crown of Indian's Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir, the film follows Kunzang and her friends as they count down the four days they have to do a full performance for their teacher. They need to convince him that they can pull it off; otherwise this just might be the last Dragon Dance that they perform! Will they be able to do it?
To find out, watch Kung Fu Nuns on BBC World News at 10:00 am and 11:00 PM India time on Saturday, 3rd of September or 4:00 pm and 11:00 PM on Sunday, 4th of September 2011.
**Note: The Drukpa Lineage follows the Mahayana Buddhist tradition in philosophy, i.e. the philosophy of "getting enlightened for the benefit of others" and the methods are based on the Tantrayana teachings passed down from the great Indian saint Naropa, who was born in 1016 in A West Bengal royal family. It acquired the name Drukpa in the twelfth century. The present Gyalwang Drukpa is the twelfth incarnation of the founder of the Lineage
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