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Sands of Tibet: Lamas Create Mandala in Hampton, VA

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Tibetan ceremonial drum.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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The Buddhist lamas of the Drepung Loseling Monastery are creating an intricate, traditional sand mandala at The American Theater in Hampton, VA. This is their 13th annual visit.
The lamas consecrated the site for the mandala at the opening ceremony with chants and music on Tuesday, July 31, at 7 pm.

The altar on the stage, with the image of the Dalai Lama
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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The lama-artists are creating their sacred art, a White Tara mandala, on the stage of the theater. The public is invited to observe, 10 am - 6 pm, through Aug. 3.

Lamas intent on their work.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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White Tara is the Tibetan Buddhist diety of protection, the embodiment of motherly love and compassion.

White Tara poster from
(Image by Nepalscraft)
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After constructing a chalk line drawing, the artist-monks "paint" the five-foot square mandala with brightly colored sand. Millions of grains of sand are carefully positioned through the use of metal funnels and scrapers, amidst a meditative environment provided by a CD of overtone chanting.

Sand and tools
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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Drummer Connie Ralston, volunteering at the event, shows visitors how to use the materials to participate in the community sand mandala.

Volunteer Connie Ralston demonstrates the technique.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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I tried my hand at adding blue curliques to a white cloud on the community mandala.

Adding detail to the cloud
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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The public is invited to the closing ceremony, 2 pm, Sunday Aug 5. The completed mandala will be ritualistically deconstructed as a symbol of of the impermanence of life.

Working on the sand mandala.
(Image by Meryl Ann Butler)
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A portion of the sacred sand will be distributed to the audience, and the rest will be carried in a procession to a nearby source of water, to be returned to the earth as a blessing to the world.

Monks complete a sand mandala in 2003, Nashua High School north.
(Image by Mozart Diensthuber for wikipedia)
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On previous US tours the lamas have displayed this sacred art in museums across the country, including the Arthur Sackler Gallery, Washington; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem; the Indianapolis Art Museum, Indianapolis; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, and The Provincial Museum of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.

Richard Gere
(Image by wikipedia)
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Sponsor, actor Richard Gere, notes, "The Mystical Arts of Tibet tours, put together by Drepung Loseling and Richard Gere Productions, have accomplished extraordinary things, not only in America but also around the world. The production by the monk-artists of Drepung Loseling Monastery is both highly professional and beautiful, and expresses the purity and sophistication of the Tibetan sacred performing arts. I am deeply honored to be associated with it."

These events are taking place at:
The Charles H. Taylor Arts Center's American Theater
125 East Mellen Street,  Hampton, VA 23663
(757) 722-2787

Thursday August 2, 10am - 6pm: Construction of the Mandala - Free"-
Friday August 3, 10am - 6pm: Construction of the Mandala - Free
Saturday August 4,  10am- 4pm (All day workshop, $50 fee):"-The Healing Power of Compassion: Insights from the Convergence of Modern Science and Buddhist Science of Mind Led by Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi
Sunday August 5, 12 Noon: Lecture: The Symbolism of the Mandala- Free
Sunday August 5, 2pm: Closing Ceremonies and procession to the water.

Mystical Arts of Tibet, "Mandala Sand Painting."  Accessed 08 01 12.
White Tara Thangkas    Accessed 08 01 12.
See Buddhist Monks build a sand mandala.   click here; Accessed 08 01 12.
The partnership between Emory University and the Drepung Loseling Monastery   Accessed 08 01 12.

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Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing since she was a hippie. She began writing for OpEdNews in Feb, 2004. She became a Senior Editor in August 2012 and Managing Editor in January, (more...)

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