Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery were on campus this week to construct a mandala sand painting as part of the college’s Year of Mindfulness.
From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a platform over a period of days or weeks to form the image of a mandala, a symbolic representation of the universe.
Traditionally, most sand mandalas are destroyed shortly after their completion — a metaphor for the impermanence of life. During the closing ceremony, the lamas swept up the sands and placed them in an urn. Half of the sand was distributed to the audience. The remaining sand is carried to, and deposited in a body of flowing water.