Living with Covid at Sera Jey Monastery
All the monks at Sera Jey Monastery in South India have been in varying degrees of lockdown since March 2019, with many restrictions ongoing.
Due to those restrictions, normal mail services have ceased, and due to the lockdowns, there has been no opportunity for pujas, other communal gatherings for teachings or outings (unless approved).
Morning prayers was the time when other sponsors would be able to offer tea and bread, along with a small money offering for each of the monks. These offerings, together with the kind ongoing sponsorship, enables the monks to purchase robes, items for study, medicines and health items; if possible, they also put a little aside to attend teachings with His Holiness Dalai Lama etc.
One of the monks who helps manage and look after distribution of your sponsorship monies answered a few questions for us.
In general, how have the monks managed during the extended lockdown?
During lockdown we need to stay in our own room for study and prayer; there is no puja and no debate class. The monastery 's main kitchen has been closed. While they were able to supply rice, flour, dal and sunflower oil every three or four weeks, we need to cook by ourselves. The monastery also divided all monks into three sections, and each week representatives were allowed to go outside to purchase vegetables.
What are the current lockdown rules at Sera Monastery?
As mentioned above, we are totally closed, including the Sera Jey shop which was previously open only a few hours in the morning and evening. Now we are not even able to go outside to Kushal or First Camp; this has been banned since March 2020.
Have many of the monks been vaccinated?
All monks aged over 18 have been vaccinated, (Indian Vaccines COVAXIN)
What happens if monks get sick; can they be treated at Sera?
If any monks are sick, they will first be treated in the monastery clinic. If the conditions worsen, they may go to an outside hospital like First Camp Tsojee Hospital or Mysore Hospital. In general, Sera Jey Health Clinic has advised that only severely unwell people should come to the clinic, where there are currently eight Covid patients undergoing treatment. Unfortunately, we have had monks who have died from Covid.
How are the monks able to study? How do they receive instructions?
Some monks studying at Sera Jey are taking online classes through a Whatsapp Group; other monks are undertaking self study through listening to recordings of previous years' teachings.
In general how does the money sent from sponsors help?
It is fabulous! As meals are supplied by monastery, monks can save their sponsorship money for other uses including attending teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with other life expenditures like clothing etc. It really is indispensable.
Please tell the sponsors thank you; your help is so important. We pray every day for your good health and life.