Tenzin, 10, and Norubu Sherpa, 7, are not wandering monks, but they are newly-inducted monks indeed, and have wandered far from their home in West Bengal.
These children were found roaming around in the Chennai Central railway station before Deepavali, and volunteers of Karunalaya, an organisation working in the area of child rights, took them to their shelter in Royapuram.
“The Railway police told us to provide them a home during Deepavali,” explains Paul Sunder Singh, founder, Karunalaya.
The kids trace a Tibetan link to the family, but they say their father was a Nepali; and they speak Nepali at home, where they live with their grandmother and four other siblings.
“Pa died, and ma works as an agricultural labourer. She visits us sometimes,” Tenzin says, in accented Hindi.
They say they were taken to a monastery (Sera Jey) in Karnataka, from where they ran away, they claim because a ‘guruji’ (monk) beat Norubu for not reading his prayers.
“He was bleeding, so we ran away. We had Rs.600 when we left home, and used that to take a train to Chennai, because when we were taken to the Mysore monastery, we went via this city,” Tenzin says.
Both of them are very clear in that they want to go home back to their grandmother.
While the older boy is not clear when they are likely to go home, Norubu says, “Now there are holidays. We’ll go home after the holidays are over.”
“We are trying to trace their family; they say they are close to Siliguri, in a place called ‘Nau Bazaar’.
Meanwhile, we have written to the Monastery, but the children clearly do not want to go back there,” Mr. Singh says.
Karunalaya has proposed to take the case before the Child Welfare Committee over the next couple of days.