SARABHAI, BHUNTAR, HIMACHAL PRADESH, INDIA.

Child monks of Dechen Choekhor Mahavira.

Turning momentarily to reveal a curious expression, a boy monk hurries for his bath at the Dechen Choekhor Monastery in Bhuntar. Ordained as early as seven years of age, young renunciates grow up learning the ways of their order under the care of teachers till old enough to be initiated as novices. No different from children their age, many take up the robes at the behest of elders, without any comprehension of the difficult path ahead – monastic life can be harsh and disciplined, but for many impoverished families unable to provide the right care for their children monasteries are heaven sent especially when they also mean divine blessings for the parents.