Sister Acthttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/sister-act-4/

Sister Act

Through her performances based on chants and feast songs,Buddhist nun Ani Choying Drolma spreads the message of peace and women’s empowerment

Ani Choying Drolma may possibly be the only nun with a huge,pop star-like fan following. Her daily planner is almost always full with schedules of concert tours at various countries across the world,where she brings Tibetan Buddhist chants and feast songs to mainstream audiences. The Nepalese has multiple albums to her credit – Cho (1997),Dancing Dakini (1999),Choying (2000),amongst others,and her songs and original music also appear in commercial albums like Head Massage by Soul Flip and the Buddha Bar compilation. Drolma’s latest work features collaborations with musician A R Rahman. “I worked on one of his projects where he very kindly invited me to perform,and it has been a wonderful experience. Not only because I worked with a world-renowned musician but also because it was a completely new kind of experience where I also had the opportunity to collaborate with singers from India and Jordan,” she says,adding that the experience proved to be an ideal satsang as she had the opportunity to meet other artistes with innate human greatness. The album is scheduled to be released in India on August 15.

For 42-year-old Drolma,singing is not only a passion but a spiritual path and practice of meditation. “Music is my magic wand. It provides more opportunities for me to spread the message of women’s empowerment in terms of education and help women across the world realise their innate human potential. I feel blessed that my music has reached many people around the world,made them happy and has also been able to serve my fellow beings,” she says.

Joining the nunnery was Drolma’s only chance to escape getting married early in life. Thus,at the age of 13,she ran away from home to enrol at the nunnery. There she was taught Buddhist meditation,chants,rituals and ceremonies and spiritual training by renowned meditation master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and his wife. “Music was blessed on to me by Almighty and poured into my soul by the famous mediation master. I feel I have been born with music on my lips,” says Drolma.

But popularising her music was never on Drolma’s mind until she met the famous American guitarist Steve Tibbetts. At 19,Drolma was the chanting master at a nunnery at Nagi Gompa,near Kathmandu,and visiting Tibbetts was charmed by her soulful voice. He invited her to perform at concerts in the US along with his band. Drolma understood the opportunities that the offer stood for,she saw herself reach out to millions of people around the world through the power of her songs,something she could not do from within the nunnery’s walls. After much contemplation,she accepted,and travelled extensively across UK,Europe and Asia,spreading the message of peace through her soulful and melodious chants.

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“ The first time I was on stage at a concert,I was not nervous at all. I was excited. Then as time passed,people used to ask me before every performance or recording,’Ani are you nervous?’ It was then that I realised that sometimes,maybe it’s good to be nervous. Now I have learnt to be a little nervous. There is still more excitement when I am about to take the stage or begin a recording,but I also allow a little nervousness to creep in as I am about to connect with human hearts through my voice,” says Drolma.

(Ani Choying Drolma will be performing at Oakwood Premier Pune today,from 8 pm onwards)