Vassar Hosts Creation of Sand Mandala April 21–26

Religious ceremony by Tibetan lamas opens exhibition

Vassar College will host the creation of a Tibetan sand mandala April 21–26, as part of the opening of Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage, Practice, an exhibition at the Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, which begins April 23.

Tibetan Buddhist lamas of the Drikung lineage will construct the mandala in honor of the figure Avalokiteshvara, or Chenrezig (as the bodhisattva is known in Tibet), the embodiment of compassion in Buddhism and the focus of the exhibition.

Tibetan lamas of the Drikung Kagyu lineage creating a sand mandala at Asia Society, New York, 2014. (Photo by Karen Lucic)

Tibetan lamas of the Drikung Kagyu lineage creating a sand mandala at Asia Society, New York, 2014. (Photo by Karen Lucic)

The mandala makers will travel from different locations to participate, including Ven. Khenpo Choephel, spiritual director of the Three Rivers Dharma Center in Pittburgh, and originally from Drigung-til Monastery, Tibet; Lama Konchok Sonam Karushar, spiritual director of Drikung Meditation Center in Boston, and originally from Katsel Monastery, Tibet; and Dr. Hun Yeow Lye, founder and spiritual director of Urban Dharma North Carolina in Asheville.

The mandala making will be available for daily viewing Tuesday through Sunday, April 21–26, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m. daily in the Villard Room of Main Building. Dr. Lye will give an informal illustrated talk, Mandalas — Circles of Awakening: The Meaning, Uses, and History of Mandalas in Buddhism, on Tuesday, April 21, 5 p.m.

A dissolution ceremony will take place on April 26 at 1 p.m. After working on the mandalas for days, the lamas brush them away upon completion. Carried in a colorful procession, the dismantled materials of the mandala are then poured into a body of water that flows to the sea.

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