From nuns in the United Kingdom and Canada to nuns in India, nuns from all over the world have flocked to India for the spiritual rebirth of Buddhism.
As they travel, many nuns offer prayers and share their own stories of faith and practice, with one exception.
The United States nuns, who are the second largest in the world, say they have a deep respect for the Dalai Lama.
“We are all connected to the world and the world is connected to us,” said Sister Maria Gaga, a California-based nun and a member of the Sisters of Mercy of America.
“The Dalai Lama’s teachings have always been very clear, but to understand the depth of that, we have to understand Buddhism.
We have to get past the fact that Buddhism is not about a particular ideology.”
Gaga’s sister, Sister Lisa, said the nuns have always wanted to serve the community.
“My mother was a Catholic and I was raised with Catholic teachings,” she said.
“It was important for me to serve.”
Buddhism has an estimated 7.5 billion adherents worldwide.
It was established by Tibetan monks who fled the Mongol Empire in 1644 and became a Buddhist sect.
In 1869, China annexed the Tibetan autonomous region, and the Dalai and his followers were expelled in 1959.
They have lived in India since then, but now they are coming to the city of Kolkata for the second time.
Sister Maria Gara, a former nun and one of the largest nun organizations in the U.S., said her sister has always been interested in Buddhism.
Bethany Riggs, a 26-year-old American nun who lives in New York City, is also from the country.
She said she felt honored to be a part of the visit and hopes the nuns will come to visit as well.
A trip to India is a rare opportunity for the nuns, a group that often focuses on religious work, because the country is so small.
In a video posted on Facebook, Sister Maria said she had hoped to see the Dalai at least once before the Tibetan uprising in 1959 ended.
“I was very, very excited to get my hands on him,” she told the video host.
“He has a great voice and he’s a great storyteller, so I’m very hopeful.”
When the Tibetan Buddhists in exile were expelled from India, they were not allowed to enter the country, and for decades, the Tibetan government did not provide any information about the whereabouts of the Dalai.
But in 2017, India granted the nuns permission to visit.
One of the nuns who arrived in India on Sunday said they hoped to get to know the Dalai better and meet his children.
It was the first time in a long time that they had been able to see him, Sister Ruth Bowers said in a statement.
Ruth, who was born in India but has lived in the country for nearly 20 years, said she was excited to see “the great spiritual leader of our country.”
“We’re not looking for a relationship,” she added.
“We’re looking for an opportunity to meet him, to understand his teachings, to have an understanding of his teachings.
I hope that we can share our experience and our hopes with him.”
According to the Dalai, the Dalai’s teachings are based on his life experience and have always had the support of all of us.
“For those who have not experienced my teachings, I invite you to have a moment and think about the depth and the depthness of your understanding and the richness of your heart,” the Dalai said.
According the United Nations, the world’s largest religious body, around 200 million people worldwide practice Buddhism.
There are about 1.8 million nuns and monks in the Western world, including the United Church of Christ in the USA.
There are more than 300,000 nuns in China, and China’s Communist Party officially recognized Buddhism as a religion in 2014.
Since the Chinese government began its policy of “reinstating Buddhism” in 1989, about 1 million monks and nuns have returned to China.