A mandala is a geometric figure representing the universe in Hindu and Buddhist symbolism (Google definition). It is a ceremony that originated from the Tibetan Buddhist belief that a mandala has the power to radiate an aura of Compassion and bless the region that it is created in. The mandala is constructed into elaborate patterns using millions of grains of vibrantly colored sands. The instruments used are metal funnels, called chak-pur, that are filled with the colored sands and scraped to dispense the sand inside.
This solemn ceremony has visited Clark College before and there is a progression of events that leads up to the creation of the Sand Mandala and the dispersal of its sand. The ceremony takes up the span of a whole week and the first event is a thirty minute opening ceremony, which the monks begin by chanting Buddhist verses and playing traditional instruments to welcome good energy. Second, the design of the Sand Mandala is marked and drawn with chalk; this process takes up the first day. Third, the construction of the Sand Mandala takes place over the course of the whole week as the monks start in the morning and work all day to early evening. Finally, by mid-afternoon on the last day, the monks finish the Sand Mandala and will signify this with a closing ceremony of chants and music. Right after this, the monks destroy their week-long creation as a lesson of impermanence in the Universe.
This special event has been held in Clark’s Cannell Library, and it has been noted by students that listening to the scraping of the monk’s sand instruments helped both relax and focus the studying students around the library.
Unfortunately, this year’s Sand Mandala creation is now indefinitely postponed because of visa issues in India. When there is an update on their arrival, please be sure to come and support them for coming such a long way to celebrate with us!
To see the pictures taken of the Sand Mandala of a previous year, visit here.
A short clip of the Sand Mandala ceremony can be found here.