Sand Mandala at Samye Dzong, London
The Tashi Lhunpo Monks are currently making a Sand Mandala at Samye Dzong. The Mandala will be completed on Wednesday morning and the sand will then be poured into the river Thames in a closing ceremony at Tower Bridge between 10-12am. Please visit the Darshana Photo Art Sand Mandala Gallery where images are being updated daily.
Of all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with coloured sand is one of the most exquisite. The mandala essentially is a representation of the celestial mansion or abode of a principal deity or deities, surrounded by their retinues, and representing the path and fruition of the particular cycle of practices.
To make a sand mandala, millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place in an intricate design over a period of several days using hollow tubes called chagpurs. The material used is ground marble dust - but in ancient times powdered precious and semi-precious stones were also used. The monks will be creating a Medicine Buddha Mandala.
A total of eight monks are making the mandala over a period of five days. The exhibition begins with a short dedication prayer, and on completion, the mandala is dismantled in a moving ceremony during which the sand is swept into the centre of the table, symbolizing the impermanence of all things. A small amount of sand will be poured into the Thames after a small procession from the centre to Tower Bridge, and people attending the ceremony can take away with them small bags of sand as a memory of the event.
During the construction of the sand mandala, the monks will offer workshops which can be attended on a drop-in basis. Various workshops will introduce the Tibetan arts of sand mandala making, where people will be able to try a 'hands on' sand mandala as well as a butter sculpture, printing of prayer flags and writing beautiful Tibetan calligraphy. People taking part can carry away with them a prayer flag printed from a traditional wood block. Families and children are welcome to participate in these.
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