Monks to prepare sand mandala in Manchester

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MANCHESTER — Residents and visitors in the Northshire will have the opportunity to witness the sacred art of a sand mandala created by Tibetan Buddhist monks beginning Oct. 20 at the First Congregational Church in Manchester Village.

The monks will arrive in Manchester Oct. 20, where an opening ceremony will begin a week of art, spirituality, teaching and cultural exchange.

The ceremony is planned for 5 p.m. in the First Congregational Church and will feature music, chanting and ceremony as the monks prepare to create their sand art.

The monks will visit thanks to the tireless efforts by Andrea Ross, who had the chance to witness the Sacred Arts Tour of the Drepung Gomang Tibetan monks.

She began working to bring the monks to Manchester and jumped at the opportunity to host them in her home for their weeklong visit.

"The opening and closing ceremonies are particularly moving, and just dropping in to watch the construction of the mandala at any time during its construction is amazing," Ross wrote on her webpage she created for the event at www.manchestermandala.org.

"If you have never seen in person the creation of a sand mandala by Tibetan Buddhist monks, it is an extraordinary artistic and cultural phenomenon."

The holy men travel around creating sand mandalas of compassion.

The art — the mandala, is created with grains of dyed sand, layered in a circular pattern.

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According to Ross' website, "the mandala represents a rich Buddhist philosophy centered on compassion, the importance of reality and universal responsibility."

The mandala is intended to create "boundless compassion for all beings."

The monks will take five days to create the mandala, after which, it will be destroyed in a elaborate ritualistic ceremony.

The sand will be swept up to symbolize "the impermanence of all that exists" and then carried in a procession to a flowing body of water to release the mandala back into nature to "release its energies of compassion and healing into the world, blessing all elements and beings."

Visitors are encouraged to watch the monks work throughout and to be present for the opening and closing ceremonies, which have been described as moving and meaningful.

There is no charge for admission to view the mandala or to watch as it is created.

However, donations are accepted to offset the travel expenses of the monks. They rely exclusively on the generosity of strangers.

Ross and her husband will house and feed the eight monks for their week in Manchester and hopes others will contribute.

More information can be found at www.manchestermandala.org.


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