Two monks from the Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India began creating a sand mandala on the morning of June 24th, 2015 in preparation for the official birthday celebration of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama this July.
Significance of the Mandala
The word "mandala" can be translated to mean circle, but it is far more than just a shape. From the sun to the moon, these symbols are all around us representing various aspects of life. Regardless of religious or spiritual orientation, when deployed as a tool for contemplation or self-discovery, the mandala can be a vehicle to better understand ourselves, our relationship to others (including plants and animals), and perhaps even our purpose.
The Art of Tibetan Sand Mandalas
Tibetan Monks create sand mandalas as an exquisite meditation on the impermanence of life. These intricate works of art are made up of colored sand created from crushed semiprecious stones. Upon completion, the sand is swept up and emptied into a body of water as a blessing and way to honor the cycle of life.
A Gift for His Holiness
The special type of mandala created during the Global Compassion Summit depicts the celestial house of Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig as he is known in Tibetan, the Buddhist deity who personifies the ideal of compassion. His Holiness is regarded as a living manifestation of this enlightened being.
The creation of the sand mandala was open to the public, wherein anybody could visit the Banning House on UC Irvine's campus and see the monks at work. While witnessing this once-in-a-lifetime experience, visitors were also able to make offerings to the mandala, practice making their own sand designs with tools brought from the monastery, and even have tea with our friendly monks, Namsa Chenmo Venerable Tenzin Choedhar and Venerable Sherab Choephel!
After 9 days and nearly 115 hours of painstaking work, the sand mandala was completed on July 2nd.