Tibetan Monks to Construct Sand Mandala for Public Viewing
Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012
Hun Lye, professor of East Asian religions at Davidson College, will discuss the symbolism behind sand mandalas during a weeklong event "Sacred Sand Art: Mandalas in the Buddhist Tradition" at Utah State University.
An example of a sand mandala.
Using metal funnels called chakpurs and millions of grains of colored sand, Tibetan Buddhist monks will construct an elaborate sand mandala for viewing at Utah State University Oct. 22-26.
The Religious Studies Program of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences invited the monks and Hun Lye, professor of East Asian religions at Davidson College, to discuss the symbolism behind this ancient form of meditation during a weeklong event, “Sacred Sand Art: Mandalas in the Buddhist Tradition.”
The public is invited to observe the creation, duration and eventual dissolution of the sand mandala. All events will occur at the HUB in the Taggart Student Center on the Logan campus.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning circle. In Buddhism, mandalas are created to invoke powerful deities to confer physical, psychological and environmental healing, said Wijitha Bandara, a visiting scholar in the Religious Studies Program. “They are an object for meditation.”
Erected with colorfully dyed grains of sand arranged over calculated geometric patterns, each mandala has a meaning, and each color has a purpose in the design. The monks will perform an opening ceremony asking the deities for permission to construct it and a closing ritual prior to its disassembly. Despite the days spent painstakingly laying grains of sand in a precise pattern, the mandala is only available for viewing upon completion for a few hours to reflect the impermanence of the cosmos.
Everyone is invited to view the assembly of the mandala between 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Oct. 22-25.
Professor Lye will be present to answer questions about the practice throughout the mandala’s construction. He will also present a public talk Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 7 p.m. The talk, “Mandalas — Circles of Awakening: The Meanings, Uses and History of Mandalas in Buddhism,” presents an overview of the function of mandalas as part of a religious system and as a tool for spiritual transformation.
“Some authors might say that a person without ritual is less fully human; this may be a way to examine our own humanity,” said Phil Barlow, director of the Religious Studies Program and the Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at USU. “Rituals are symbols in motion. This is ritually enacting and symbolizing a view of the nature of the cosmos.”
There will be experiential learning and meditation opportunities for students throughout the week. The event is co-sponsored by Housing and Residence Life, University Dining, USU Religious Studies Club, Anthropology Club, Appreciating the Arts Freshman Interest Group and Global Village, among others. A complete listing of events follows.
- Monday, Oct. 22, 10 a.m. to 10:35 a.m. — Introduction by Hun Lye, professor of East Asian religions at Davidson College, followed by ritual performances and beginning of construction of the sand mandala by the Tibetan monks. View assembly of the mandala from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday. Lye will be available to answer questions during this period.
- Tuesday, Oct. 23 — Construction of the mandala continues, 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Lye will be available to answer questions. 7 p.m. — Showing of the film “Himalaya: Epic Adventure of Survival” at the Taggart Student Center, the HUB.
- Wednesday, Oct. 24 — Construction of the mandala continues, 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Lye will be available to answer questions. 6 p.m. — Religious Studies Program Opening Social for majors, minors, faculty and anyone interested in learning more about the study of religion. 7 p.m. — Public Lecture by professor Lye, “Mandalas — Circles of Awakening: The Meanings, Uses and History of Mandalas in Buddhism.”
- Thursday, Oct. 25 — Construction of the mandala continues, 10 a.m. to noon and 2-5 p.m. Lye will be available to answer questions.
- Friday, Oct. 26 — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., view the completed mandala followed by its dissolution. 3 p.m. — Dissolution is a crucial part of the ceremony. The sand will be poured into the Logan River at Second Dam. All are invited to attend.
- USU Religious Studies Program
- USU Department of History
- USU College of Humanities and Social Science
Source: College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Contact: Wijitha Bandara, (435) 797-9058, firstname.lastname@example.org