Morning Rituals at Tergar School Kathmandu

A Family of Friends Chanting

Mornings at the Tergar School Kathmandu are joyous. Having finished breakfast, the students have some free time before the daily rituals begin. For some this includes playing tag or kicking a soccer ball. While for others, they sit at a table in the sun, talking and giggling. Teachers roam the campus, checking in with kids to see how they are doing, offering a hug or high five. There is a homey feeling to this campus with its foliage and flowers and the cozy houses where the boys live. The beautiful new shrine room, full of windows and light, sits at the center of it all. 

Shortly before 9am the bell rings and the students gather at the steps of the shrine room, remove their shoes and file in for the chants and meditation. This process is at the core of their school day. Every week a different student serves as chant master. The daily chants begin effortlessly all by memory. As with any Tibetan Buddhist context, they first begin by taking refuge and cultivating bodhichitta—the heartfelt wish for the welfare of all beings. Then they continue with a series of aspirations that all beings may have happiness and be free from suffering. 

Without interruption they move from one chant to the next, reminding onlookers of the interdependence and interconnection of all things and the importance of love and compassion for all sentient beings. The timbre of their voices in unison lift one’s heart, creating a sense of connection. A family of friends chanting together for the benefit of all beings. The boys seem so comfortable, at ease, full of life and joy during this daily chanting. Once complete a teacher leads the students through inquiries pertaining to the Buddhist Experiential Curriculum. This could, for example, be how beings perceive the world through their sense of sight, or how to cultivate compassion for difficult people. After dedicating the merit of their practice, students are released class by class to reclaim their shoes and reassemble on the shrine room steps.

The Singing of the National Anthems of Nepal and Tibet

Students at the Tergar School straddle multiple cultural contexts. They speak different languages, most of them being dialects of Nepali or Tibetan. Some have more overlap than others. Their regional customs and familial patterns also differ. For some, the transition to a residential school away from their village is difficult while for others the integration seems easy. We strive to create a safe, caring and compassionate atmosphere at the school so students can come together as one family in Kathmandu. Through this process, we support and celebrate each community member’s unity and also their uniqueness. To this end, the students learn the standard dialects of Tibetan, English, and Nepali, increasing opportunities to interact with their peers. 

Also part of this process of cultivating community is signing both the Nepali and Tibetan national anthems. This signals a sense of inclusivity for the boys, recognizing their multi-cultural backgrounds. The students begin with the Nepali anthem. At times, this includes the older students playing the anthem with their wooden flutes. The Nepali anthem has an upbeat cadence so the students love to sing loudly. The Tibetan anthem is more modest, so the mood settles as they sing and heartfelt expressions of hope fill the air. The Tibetan anthem offers aspiration for all beings to experience happiness and peace, echoing the prayers folded into the morning ritual. Here you can read the Tibetan anthem translated into English.

These everyday experiences exemplify what Tergar Schools is interested in: creating family-like spaces of learning where students draw from the profound practices and wisdom of Tibetan Buddhism in order to enhance their learning journey.