Sand Mandala Creation
The creation and destruction of the mandala is a reminder of the profound Buddhist concept of impermanence. To the exiled monks the mandala is a particularly poignant and important ritual art form. Of all the artistic traditions of Buddhism, that ritual of painting with colored sand is one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan, this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means “mandala of colored powders.” Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.
According to Buddhist history, the purpose, meanings, and techniques involved in the spiritual art of sand mandala painting were taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the 6th-century B.C. in India. This tradition has been preserved over the past 2500 years in an unbroken transmission from master to disciple.
The Tibetan word for mandala is kilkhor, which means “center of the circle with exterior walls and surrounding environment.” Millions of grains of brightly colored sand, placed with great skill and patience using a metal funnel called a chak phur, form the intricate and beautiful geometric designs of the sand mandala sacred art form.
Tibetans believe that all who participate and watch the mandala process accumulate merit. The sand is traditionally made from ground precious stones. Since each grain of sand is charged with the blessings of the ritual process, the entire sand mandala embodies a vast store of spiritual energy.
Tour attendees will be able to observe these monks in creating this art form, as they painstakingly create the mandala, learn about its meaning and participate in the stirring dissolution ceremony where the design is destroyed and ritually returned to nature. Observers who are present for the destruction of this beautiful mandala describe it as moving and uplifting.