Mandala Sand Painting: Creating an Enlightened World

Mandala Sand Painting: Creating an Enlightened World

11 September 2003 - 21 September 2003
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Asia Society presents a special one-time event of mandala sand painting by the Tibetan monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, South India. Over a ten-day period at Asia Society and Museum, the monks will construct a sand mandala – a sacred cosmogram – in commemoration of September 11 and as an offering of peace and healing to the people of New York City.

Mandala sand painting is considered one of the most unique and exquisite artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism. Called dul-tson-kyil-khor in Tibetan, literally “mandala of colored powders,” the process is one of prayer, patience and meditation. The ritual begins with an opening ceremony on Thursday, September 11 at 10:00 A.M., during which the monks will consecrate the site and call forth the forces of goodness by music, chanting and mantra recitation. This blessing will take place in Asia Society’s Lila Acheson Wallace auditorium and is free and open to the public on a first-come first-served basis.

The construction of the mandala begins by drawing the design on the base, a 5’ by 5’ table. Before any sand is laid, the monks carefully measure and draw the architectural lines. These lines form a cosmogram, or the floor plan of a sacred mansion. Once this is complete, the monks painstakingly begin the process of applying colored sand through the end of a metal funnel onto the design. The funnel is then rasped in order to release a fine stream of sand. Each day’s work on the mandala will conclude at 5:00 P.M. and is followed by 30 minutes of chanting and meditation (8:00 P.M. on Friday). Throughout the process of constructing the mandala, visitors are invited to share in this intimate and mesmerizing ritual.

At 4:00 P.M. on Sunday, September 21, after ten days of disciplined preparation and meditation, the mandala will be dismantled in a public closing ceremony as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The blessed sand will be dispersed to the public so as to symbolically share the blessings with the rest of the world. In order to accommodate potential visitor overflow due to the 20-person capacity in the gallery, a simulcast of the Closing Ceremony will take place in the Society’s auditorium.

A live webcast of Mandala Sand Painting: Creating an Enlightened World will be available on www.asiasociety.org. In addition, a live simulcast will be presented in the lobby at Asia Society and Museum on Park Avenue.

The Drepung Loseling monks are on a yearlong world tour known as “The Mystical Arts of Tibet.” The tour is co-produced by Richard Gere Productions and Drepung Loseling Institute, the North American Seat of Drepung Loseling Monastery. Endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the tour has three basic purposes: to make a contribution to world peace and healing through sacred art; to generate a greater awareness of Tibetan culture; and to raise support for the Tibetan refugee community in India.

On September 20 the Interfaith Center of New York and the Tibet Fund will present a special performance of Sacred Music Sacred Dance for World Healing by the Drepung Loseling monks at 8:00 P.M. at Saint Bartholomew’s Church (Park Avenue at 51st Street). Information and advance tickets are available at (866) 938-4048(toll-free).

See more archived photos at the website for the event.

Mandala Sand Painting: Creating an Enlightened World was made possible with generous support from Ruth and Harold Newman.

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