Tibetan Monks from the Labrang Tashi Kil Monastery in Dehradun, India were at the Carnegie in New Albany, Indiana this week.
The seven monks worked every day from 11 to 5 to construct a World Peace Sand Mandala. On the 5th day the Tashi Kyil monks conducted a closing ceremony where the mandala is swept away and the sands deposited into the Ohio River.
The design of a mandala is made of colored sand. The monks use a chakpur – a long funnel with ridges to hold the sand. When the monk taps the funnel with a metal rod, sand flows to make the intricate designs.
The symbolism in the design of a sand mandala often represent love, compassion and respect. By it being made of sand, sand mandalas shows the Tibetan belief in the impermanence of nature and life.
It is meant to show that so much of what people view as important and spend time on, are things which do not last. In the center of this mandela are the “Four Harmonious Brothers” an elephant, monkey, rabbit and bird. The middle ring shows eight auspicious symbols. After a mandela is constructed, it’s sands are deposited into a flowing body of water to spread good fortune.
Watching the Monks work on the Mandala, I was struck by the symbols of old and new. The ancient symbols on the mandala side by side with a modern cell phone and coke can.