Sand Mandala for His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

As part of the 80th birthday celebration and Global Compassion Summit honoring His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama this July, two monks visiting from the Namgyal Monastery in Dharamsala, India spent 9 days and over 115 hours creating a Sand Mandala on the University of California, Irvine campus. The photo summary below is separated into three parts: Creation, Consecration, and Dissolution.


July 02, 2015

9:00 am to 10:00 pm


Phineas Banning House

University of California, Irvine

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.

Consecration & Blessing

July 07, 2015

7:00 am to 10:00 am


Phineas Banning House

University of California, Irvine

In a rare and fortunate turn of events, the creators were able to present their work to His Holiness when he visited and blessed the site on July 7th.

This traditional ceremony is called the "Consecration" of the mandala.

Dismantling & Dissolution

July 29, 2015

9:00 am to 12:30 pm


Phineas Banning House

University of California, Irvine

The ceremony was complete on July 29th when the mandala was dismantled and a portion of the sand was delivered to the ocean in Orange County, CA.

Rituals began with dissolution chanting focused on the four immeasurables: Loving Kindness, Compassion, Appreciative Joy, & Equanimity. Energy created in this space generated altruistic intention for the benefit of all beings.

Dismantling began by Sherab selecting sand from each of the four sections of the mandala and blessed each person in the room. The remainder of the sand was then swept up to symbolize and honor the impermanence of all that exists.

Finally, the group left the Banning House for the dispersal of the sand into the ocean at Corona Del Mar State Beach. The ocean is now carrying the intention and healing energies of the mandala throughout the world. This process symbolizes the transience of life and the releasing of attachment to the material world.

End each day with thoughts of peace. Begin each day with thoughts of peace. Continue thinking thoughts of peace throughout your precious day and happiness will be yours.