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Volume 68, Issue 19, Friday, September 20, 2002


Sand art to finish today

By Daniel Huron
The Daily Cougar

Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Karnataka, India, will finish their mandala sand painting today, which they have been creating in the University Center Underground's World Affairs Lounge.

A closing ceremony is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today when the mandala is completed.

The monks are at the University as part of The Mystical Arts of Tibet, a traveling showcase of traditional Tibetan art, music and culture.

The monks have been gathered in the UC Underground working on the painting, since Tuesday.

At an opening ceremony, the World Affairs Lounge was blessed. From there, the monks began outlining the shapes for the sand painting and filling them in with millions of brightly colored sand grains using a metal tube called a chakpur.

Lorrie Novosad/The Daily Cougar

Buddhist monks work on a mandala sand painting in the World Affairs Lounge at the University Center Underground. When they finish their three-day project this afternoon, it will be wiped away as a symbolic gesture.

With a chakpur in one hand, the monk takes a metal rod in his free hand and runs it rapidly over the chakpur, causing the sand to flow smoothly out of the funnel.

When the painting is complete, a ceremony will be held, and the mandala will be destroyed, symbolizing the briefness of life.

Traditionally, a portion of the sand is given to audience members and the other half is dispersed into a river so the energy used to construct the mandala can flow into the ocean and around the world. It is not known what will be done with the sand from this painting.

"The sand may be taken to the next city and thrown into a river there," said Justin White of the Student Program Board. The SPB and the Metropolitan Volunteer Program are sponsoring the event.

Along with the artwork, the monks are selling items such as jewelry and scarves. They aren't allowed to handle money, so they have someone there who can touch the cash.

Geshe Tsultrin Gyatso heads the group of nine monks on the current U.S. tour.

"We have been very well received," Gyatso said, "but there are many people who still don't know the conditions facing Tibet."

Through such exhibitions, said the monk's spokesman, Tsepak Rigzin, it is the goal of the Loseling Monastery to promote global healing, make people aware of the struggles and heritage of the Tibetan people, and help continue these ancient traditions.

Conflict resolution and ridding oneself of negative forces are major themes in the symbols of the mandala being created at UH, Gyatso said.

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