The project titled 'Waiting For Ananda aims to show case photographs and document role of women who have played important roles in the contemporary spread of Buddha Dharma including strong practitioners, nuns, yogini’s, lay women, patrons and women who have somehow contributed to the development of Buddhism.

1. Exhibition of Photographs on wall panels and horizontal, names and maps of nunneries in India.
2. Film by renowned artist Seema Kohli

The Photography Exhibition will showcase a total selected 108 photographs. These photographs will be a mix of old archival photographic records and recent photographs from India, Tibet, China, Taiwan, Bhutan, Singapore, Thailand, Canada & USA all coming together to create a unique, first of its kind photographic library on the contribution of Women in Buddhism. Excerpts, poems and verses from Therigatha and other texts will also be put on panels interspersed with this photographic melange.

Film waiting For Ananda: Seema Kohli, an artist with a deep spiritual understanding of the universe as reflected in her art, has shot a film in 2013 titled ‘Waiting for Ananda’ with the backdrop of an ordination ceremony held in 2012 of Buddhist nuns and Samaneri’s in Vaishali concept by Rekha Mody and sponsored by Habiart Foundation.


In the 21st Century, where the role of women is seeking to redefine it-self in every country and in each society, it is indeed a paradox that in India, the country of Lord Buddha, the practice of ordaining nuns is absent.

On the death of Suddhona, Mahapajapati Gotami, along with 500 women walked to Vaishali to seek ordination and form a Bhikuni Sanga. This request was refused many times until Ananda sat at the Buddha's side and argued on behalf of the ordination of women. The Buddha continued to refuse the request. Finally, Ananda asked if there was any reason women could not realize enlightenment and enter Nirvana as well as men. Ananda had made his point, and the Buddha relented. Pajapati and her 500 followers became the first group of Buddhist nuns.

At the time of Ashoka, women continued to serve Buddhism. Their Saghamitta went to Anuradhapura with 11 of her followers and the Bo sapling from the Jaya Siri Maha Bodhi in Bodhgaya to establish Bhikkuni Sangha in Sri Lanka. It is recorded that till 1017A.C. the order of nuns flourished in India and in Sri Lanka, it slowly disappeared in this region.

Though even without a Bhikkhuni order there is ample scope for the participation of women in Dhamma work. Both laymen and laywomen have become arahants in the past. Thus the door to the highest goal of Buddhism is not barred to women simply because the Bhikkhuni order has become extinct.

Yet it is interesting to note that while women continued to flourish in Jain religion, Buddhism which propounded the theory of the possibility of ultimate spiritual liberation to a woman, is today at a crossroad with many women within its fold, seeking equity and justice.

The Documentary: Waiting For Ananda

A documentation showcasing patrons and women who have contributed to Buddhism in nunneries, in prayer, in meditation, in working for society. The film documents ordination carried out by nuns from six countries, India, Tibet, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia.

A large number of Nuns and Bhikunis from different countries gathered for the ordination. Ordination at Maha pajapati Nunnery at Vietnam Temple at Vaishali (Bihar built in memory of Mahaprajapati Gautami). The ceremony was inaugurated by Ven. Prof. Dr. Bhikkhu Satyapalji, Head, Department of Buddhist Studies, University of Delhi, on 28th July, 2012.

Habiart Foundation team Rekha Mody, Bryan Mulvihill and artist Seema Kohli visited Vaishali and made a ten minute documentary with direct interviews and ceremonies. Waiting for Ananda film captures the essence of women’s contribution to Buddhism. It is for the first time since Independence that an ordination program on a large scale was organised in Vaishali.

Habiart Foundation:

Habiart Foundation has been involved in the promotion of contemporary Indian art since 1989. The Foundation prides itself on a comprehensive exhibitions program, drawing upon local and international sources to secure the finest collections available for public viewing. Through workshops, seminars and art exhibitions the gallery has also provided impetus to a growing number of younger artists.

Today, the Foundation is also at the forefront of Indian efforts to seek an intelligent dialogue with the arts of our region. The SAARC nations of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Burma, Sri Lanka and Maldives have a common cultural base and it has long been felt that SAARC Art Forum to encourage inter-cultural art exchanges is much needed.

Our International & national art events include a topical art protest named 'SPHOTE' at the World Economic Forum, Davos, India Splendour in Los Angeles, Exhibition at Parliament Annexe, Presentation of 'Peace Panel' to His Holiness The Dalai Lama among several exhibitions pan India with Indian and foreign artists. Waiting for Ananda is a sponsored project of the foundation.

The Play Vidyotttama: After centuries, an enquiry into the role of Vidyottama in the writing of the great poet Kalidas has been envisioned. There is a fine line between truth, imagination and perception. Many a times, what appears to be imagined, perceived keenly emerges as the truth. Looking at Kalidas from a gender perspective has been interesting experience for us.’ - 'Rekha Mody'

Habiart Foundation presented a play Vidyottama, based on the life of Kalidasa in 2007 at the Kamani Auditorium, Vidyottama is a contemporary play reassessing history, with a gender perspective, very subtly highlighting the untold story of women's contribution to art and literature. Vidyottama is not a mere inspiration for Kalidasa but an actual equal partner in creation. The spectator is made a privileged viewer of the entire process of creation and in the end, it is left to him to decide as to who then is the actual creator.

'For us the value of a work of art lies both in the modicum of expression as well as in its ability to sensitize the imagination towards hitherto unforeseen innuendoes and subtle implications. Mohanji has very successfully combined the known reality with the possibilities of such innuendo. This is a play that will be remembered for a perfect match of genre and content, and an equally brilliant exposition of actors' inherent capabilities.' - 'Dr. Ratna Lahiri'

Rekha Mody:

She is the founder of Divya Chaya Trust established in 1984, Habiart Foundation 1987, Stree Shakti - The Parallel Force 1998. "While men are fighting, women are bonding," said Rekha Mody. She feels that women all over the world are interconnected on various underlying gender issues. With this thought she started the Global Women Forum in Singapore in 2010 with an aim network with women from SAARC & ASEAN nations. Collectively all her efforts are aimed at Self Reliance, Equity, Equality and dignity for women.

She was the Vice President of Mahabodhi Society of India 2010-13 and was nominated on India Cultural Fund 2013.

She has edited 'A Quest For Roots', a book of more than 300 posthumous biographies of women from India significant in South-Asian history. It is an attempt to rediscover and recount women’s histories that are inspirational and relevant even today.

Rekha Mody has also served on the Board of United Way, New Delhi from 2008 and Women Founders Collective USA, 2006.

Bryan Mulvihill:

Bryan Mulvihill is a Buddhist Contemporary Artist and Scholar who has does extensive research on Early Indian and Trans Himalayan Buddhist art history. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia, Canada who worked for many years under the guidance of C. Y. Radha; Chime Rimpoche, Keeper of the Tibetan and Himalayan Archives in the British Museum, London.

He has lived and travelled extensively amongst the Buddhist communities of North India, Nepal and Bhutan working on research and developing an contemporary art practice that incorporates Buddhist understanding into contemporary art and culture. Bryan has exhibited widely internationally and is the founder and artistic director of the World Tea Party Society that promotes inter cultural understanding through the ancient arts of Tea Ceremonies.

Seema Kohli: Artist / Film Maker

Seema Kohli's works reveal a claiming of feminine subjectivities, an altered concept of feminine sexuality. Her works bring into focus a woman's physical attributes, her intellect, thought, dreams and realities. There is a celebration of beauty, sensuality and intimacy in her art.

Seema's most recent thematic engagement has been that of the 'Hiranyagarbha', that evolved from a mantra of the Yajur Veda, reflecting the quiet and subtle beauty of constant procreation. All the works are a prayer to the eternal self - a way of meditation. These works are spiritual but not religious, exploring with them, a poetically elegant and richly sensuous female form.

The 'Golden Womb' is a celebration through which the supremacy of a female is established and how she procreates and keeps the journey of life, forever on. Her work is symbolic of the progress and recycling of thought processes in the human mind, which is portrayed as calmer, more mature and serene both in terms of the palette and the form. All her works are a gesture of the divine, a prayer to the eternal self, a way of meditation.

Her work validates in different mediums in the past eighteen years, some constant, being the search for the self, while other being an extension of her conceptual and creative growth as an artist and she works in both small and large formats with layers of drawings and colours. Seema has recently been facilitated by Lalit Kala Academy for being an achiever as a woman in Contemporary Indian Art. She lives and works from her studio in Delhi.