Becoming a Woman in Zanskar

Becoming a Woman in Zanskar

This is a moving and beautifully shot documentary from the remote region of Zanskar, which is technically a part of Inida, but culturally a part of Tibet. It concerns the life changes facing two young girlfriends, Tenzin (22) and Palkit (25), as they come to the point in their lives where they will leave their homes and start new lives.

For Tenzin she comes home one day to find that her family have already drunk the chang, which seals her marriage to a stranger. She has no say in the matter at that point as tradition lies heavy in this culture, and we see the amazingly ritualised ‘kidnapping’ of the bride after weeks of preparations.

Palkit, however, is against marriage and has been insisting on becoming a nun, in which she is supported by her mother, but opposed by her father. Fortunately she is able to insist and gets her way and is allowed to leave for Dharamsala in hope of finding a nunnery.

That is by no means the end though as the journey out of Zanskar is anything but easy, and she has to walk along treacherous waterways, over ice, and climb sheer cliffs like a mountain goat to get to her destination. And even when she is there it is by no means easy to find a nunnery to accept her.

The background to the film is the harsh, but beautiful mountains of Zanskar, and the traditions that this valley has held for centuries, and the film is very emotionally charged as people find themselves with little control over their own destiny.

One of the most memorable films I have seen in a long time, the film was made by Jean-Michel Corillion, originally it seems in French, but the version presented here has English narration.

 

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