Sumtrhang Monastery is located in Sumtrhang village at an altitude of around 3100 meters above sea level in Ura valley under the Bumthang District, in Bhutan. This monastery is one of the earliest Buddhist monastic establishments in Bhutan, founded in around 1220s by Nyo Lhananagpa and his son Nyoton Dechog Trulzhig Choje, and most probably it is one of the earliest establishments in the whole of Bumthang district. With the introduction of democracy and modernity, the socio-cultural traditions of this area have been facing a gradual decline leading to divisions within the communities, which have heavily affected the community’s vitality and unity. In addition, in searching for more opportunities, many monks and priests have moved to the towns and cities leaving the communities of the villages facing challenges in maintaining the annual local Buddhist traditional practices, rituals and festivals.
Sumtrhang Monastery has always been a point of reference for the neighbouring villages and for the district as a whole. It has been the home of some of the earliest mask dances, predating almost all the Bhutanese Buddhist ones, which are now on the verge of disappearing. Over the past decade, the main monastic temple has undergone renovation and finally construction is at its final stages. More recently, in order to rescue and sustain the age-old rituals and traditions that are slowly disappearing, a restoration project aimed at reinstating the monastic school was initiated with the construction of a hostel and classrooms.
Currently, there are ten nuns in the monastery who are lodging and boarding in the personal residential house of the monastery’s incumbent and who are completely dependent on his small income and farm proceeds. The nuns are taught at the same level irrespective of their age, they are studying the monastic culture and tradition of Nyingma and Kagyue ritual aspects, but when the hostel and classrooms will be complete, they will begin literature and philosophical studies in a more formal setting of monastic schooling.
Through the Long Distance Sponsorship project, the monastery’s capacity in supporting the nuns will be enhanced so that a better educational program and better facilities can be provided to make their learning experience appropriate and dignified. The monastery’s aim is to prepare them with an adequate education for their future life and practice.