by Shristi Kafle
KATHMANDU, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Ani Choying Drolma needs no introduction, as she has many feathers in her hat.
She is a Buddhist nun, a social activist, an author and most importantly, a Nepali-born singer with worldwide recognition.
Through her blissful mantras and soothing hymns and songs, Ani has been able to make a special name for herself in the music fraternity globally, touching thousands of hearts. The superstar has amazed the music enthusiasts in various nooks and corners of all the continents except Africa.
In the first week of November, Ani performed in China's capital Beijing while in the third week, she received huge applause in her musical concert in Kathmandu, which ended as a houseful show.
This famed singing nun with the ever-present smile believes that music is an effective medium of pleasure, energy and healing that has potential to calm people's mind. Ani, who is also Nepal's first UNICEF goodwill ambassador, feels social work is the main purpose of her life.
"Music has given me a good face and a new identity but social work is my main purpose. I would like to introduce myself as someone trying to be useful by serving others and without harming anyone," Ani, dressed in a saffron robe, told Xinhua recently in her three-storey apartment in Kathmandu.
With her first album Cho in 1997, Ani has released 13 musical albums so far and the revenue of album sales and concerts directly go to her humanitarian activities, especially for school and hospital projects.
She established Arya Tara School on the outskirts of Kathmandu in 2005 where young nuns from different parts of the country study for free till the secondary level.
Having an awful childhood due to abusive father, Ani herself had become a Buddhist nun after joining the Nagi Gopa monastery at the age of 13.
"We have combined traditional Buddhist studies with modern education as per regular curriculum for nuns. I want them to be capable of running their lives and serving others back in their respective communities," Ani told Xinhua.
Currently, there are 90 students in her school among whom some are studying in different colleges after the completion of their secondary education. Eighteen-year-old Dolma Lhamu, who studied in Arya Tara School, now has been studying A-level.
"I know Ani from the age of eight, she is dearer than my own mother. She has not just raised or educated me, but has been the driver of my life," the young nun Lhamu told Xinhua, who lives with Ani along with her few friends in the same apartment.
Besides school, 46-year-old Ani is also engaged with Aarogya Foundation since 2010 which works particularly for kidney patients.
After losing her mother due to kidney failure, Ani has been devoting most of her time, earning and efforts to provide free medical services for the kidney patients.
"We have already opened three free dialysis centers in and out of Kathmandu while we have the first and only HLA (human leukocyte antigen) lab in the country. We serve around 80-90 patients every day. I don't want anyone to suffer the same fate as my mother," Ani said in a feeble voice.
Her biggest dream is to have a well-facilitated building for the hospital where patients from poor families get cure not just by medicines but also by ambience and care. She believes a patient gets recovered by 50 percent medicines while ambience and care contribute 25 percent each.
Ani's social activities don't end here. She is helping the children who lost their parents during the earthquake to pursue their education and has also opened up a pre-school for the single women to make them self reliant on livelihood.
She believes gender-based discrimination is high, not just in Nepal but across the world, due to which women are living amid restrictions and compromises. She herself became a nun to avoid same sufferings that are associated with patriarchal society and marriage.
"Things are getting better for the Nepali women as there are laws in regard to citizenship, property rights among others. But the implementation part is still poor. Education is the only solution to empower women," Ani said.
Despite of several humanitarian activities, Ani often faces criticisms too, as some accuse her of living a luxurious life in the capital city owning a posh car and well-furnished apartment, which doesn't match the conventional features of nuns.
Ani doesn't get discouraged by such stereotype thinking as she believes everyone should move according to time but without forgetting the values and roots.
"We need to be kind, thoughtful and flexible with the changing world. At the end, the main purpose of nun is to bring happiness and comfort to the lives of people, I believe I am doing the same," the rock star nun said confidently.
Having a global fame and successful musical career are plus points. But according to her, she is the luckiest one for being able to bring smiles on faces.
"Life is short. I just want to continue my social works and make lives of people better and easier," the singing nun said with a graceful smile.