Miss the Sand Mandala? See its Construction Up-Close on Video!


Bismarck, ND - A four-day exploration of Tibetan culture showcasing the sacred art of Tibet concluded Friday, Sept. 24, with the completion, consecration, and destruction of the sacred sand mandala created by visiting Tibetan Buddhist monk, Venerable Ngawang Chojor. An audience of students, faculty, and members of the U-Mary and surrounding community watched intently as the exiled Tibetan monk placed the final grains of colored sand in the intricate mandala of compassion begun on Tuesday, while Karma Tensum, director of the Tibetan Children's Education Foundation, explained the process and provided cultural and historical insights.

After consecrating the mandala and speaking briefly through a translator, Venerable Chojor offered a prayer. He then began the destruction of the creation according to centuries-old tradition, symbolizing the impermanent nature of existence.

The educational visit to the University of Mary focused on the University of Mary core concept of spirituality and ethics, with emphasis on the ability to assess the value and role of spirituality and religion in human societies and describe the relationship between the Benedictine values and the values of other religious traditions. In addition, the visit explored the core concept of global stewardship with emphasis on developing a greater ability to analyze the impact of contemporary, historical and cultural perspectives, with Tensum presenting "The Challenges of Tibetan Culture Survival" as part of the university's fall convocation series. The visit was funded in part by the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Mandala is a Sanskrit word meaning "circle." A mandala is a sacred art and mandalas constructed from sand are unique to Tibetan Buddhism and are believed to effect purification and healing. Typically, a great teaching chooses the specific design of the mandala to be created. Monks then begin construction of the sand mandala by consecrating the site with sacred chants and music. Next, they make detailed drawing from memory. Over a number of days, they will fill in the design with millions of grains of colored sand. At its completion, the mandala is consecrated. Buddhism stresses the impermanent nature of existence, so once the mandala is completed, the monks will destroy the mandala by sweeping up the colored grains of sand and dispersing them.

A very special thanks to musician Ani Tsering Wangmo for providing her single entitled "Tara Mantra" from her CD Alokhe.