Monks, 'kung fu' nuns on cyclethon for environmental conservation

New Delhi: Around 500 monks and 'kung fu' nuns of the Drukpa Buddhist order, who commenced a 2,500 km arduous cyclethon from Kathmandu in Nepal and will culminate in the famed Hemis Monastery in Leh, entered the Indian state of Uttarakhand on Thursday. They are creating awareness about environmental conservation. "Recently the Himalayas faced several environmental disasters that caused unprecedented loss of life and upset the natural ecosystem," a statement quoting the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, the spiritual head of the 1,000-year-old Drukpa Order, who is leading the cyclethon, said. He said the aim through this journey is to inspire people to be one with nature instead of being in a constant state of war with it. "The Himalayas and the earth were formed millions of years before we were and it is our duty to respect them," said the Gyalwang Drukpa, the 12th reincarnation of the head of the Drukpa Order. 'Kung fu' nuns are Buddhist nuns who grow up learning the martial art. They belong to the Druk Amitabha Mountain nunnery based in the hills overlooking Kathmandu. Earlier, only the 'kung fu' nuns went on the 2,200 km cycle expedition from Kathmandu. After passing through the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, it ended in Delhi on January 9 this year. The Drukpa Order that originates from the Himalayan region of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir has built a strong reputation of community action and citizen empowerment for many years. This expedition will culminate at the 17th century Hemis monastery of Drukpa lineage, the largest such in Ladakh, prior to the grand Naropa Festival, popularly known as the Kumbh Mela of the Himalayas, slated from September 13 to October 1. The Gyalwang Drukpa was honoured by the United Nations with the Millennium Development Goals Award in September 2010 for promoting environmental education and gender equality.