Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Indianapolis had the pleasure of hosting the Gyuto Monks during the month of May at the Indianapols Museum of Art. On the 7th the Monks began the creation of a traditional Buddhist sand mandala.

The process was truly amazing to witness and continued from the 7th thru the 9th. Each day before work on the sand mandala commenced the monks performed a cleansing and blessing prayer. After the basic layout of the mandala was completed using pencils and drafting tools, the application of sand began. The sand used is colored using dyes, then the sand must be sifted to remove the fine particulate mater, it clogs the tools. The sand is placed in the mandala via specialized tools called Chakpu (pronounced more like tam-pu).

The monks representative, Sonam Hangchuk, took the time to sit and chat with me about their history. The Monks originally started their temple in Lhasa Tibet in 1474 where it stayed and prospered until the 1950's when they fled to India in exile. Today the temple still has a regular influx of new monks and is doing well. It accepts new monks from as far as Korea, but the number of monks originally from Tibet continues to fall.

The sand mandala was complete on May 9th, later that evening it was ceremoniously destroyed. Some sand from the mandala was passed out to visitors at the destruction ceremony, the rest of the sand was poured into a local canal that feeds into White River, blessing the body of water.

On May 10th the Gyuto Monks held a tantric chant performance. Attendance was amazing, and many people could be seen listening and meditation on the upper levels of the museum.

Click on any image in this post to be taken to a gallery of images from the 4 day visit at the Indianapolis Museum of art, new images will be uploaded over the coming week. Contact me for prints from this series, special discounts for IMA staff as a thank you.


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