Oct. 24, 2017

A group of Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in southern India will be visiting Buena Vista University Oct. 30 – Nov. 3. The purpose of the visit is to educate others about their culture and to share an artistic tradition with the community by constructing a sand mandala throughout the week in the Art Gallery on the BVU campus.

The mandala tradition begins with an opening ceremony, which will occur in the BVU Art Gallery on Monday, Oct. 30 at 11 a.m. During this time, the site will be blessed before an outline of a mandala is drawn on a wooden platform and colored sands are laid down.

“It is a real honor to have the Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery with us for a week. They are artists, educators, and monks. Their creation of the mandala is a beautiful process to experience: it is a work of art in and of itself.”

Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya

The public is welcome to watch the creation of the sand mandala any time throughout the week from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. There will also be a special community event in the BVU Art Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 2 from 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. In addition to observing the making of the sand mandala, attendees are encouraged to participate in a question/answer session with the Tibetan monks.

“It is a real honor to have the Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery with us for a week,” said Dr. Swasti Bhattacharyya, who organized the monks’ visit and is a professor of philosophy and religion at BVU. “They are artists, educators, and monks. Their creation of the mandala is a beautiful process to experience: it is a work of art in and of itself. We welcome all in the BVU, Storm Lake, and surrounding communities to come, watch, listen, and sit in the gallery throughout the week.”

Traditionally, once the sand mandala is complete, a closing ceremony takes place and the mandala is destroyed to symbolize the fleeting nature of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn, then half is distributed to spectators and the remainder is deposited into a nearby body of water. The closing ceremony will begin in the BVU Art Gallery at 1 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 3. The remaining sand will be deposited into the waters of Storm Lake near the BVU campus.

In addition to the monks’ mandala creation, the group plans to interact with BVU students throughout the week by eating with them during meal times, visiting classes, and hosting events as part of the University’s Academic and Cultural Event Series (ACES).

For more information about the monks’ visit, please contact Bhattacharyya at bhattacharyya@bvu.edu or 712.749.2181.