Tibetan Monks return to Grass Valley, construct sand mandala, share Tibetan art and culture | TheUnion.com

Tibetan Monks return to Grass Valley, construct sand mandala, share Tibetan art and culture

Submitted to The Union


WHO: Sierra Friends of Tibet

WHAT: Tibetan monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery’s Sacred Earth and Healing Arts

WHEN: March 13 – March 28. Opening ceremony 7 p.m. Friday, March 13

WHERE: Banner Community Guild (formerly Banner Grange), 12629 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley

MORE INFO: Call Joseph Guida at 530-798-9576 or email sierrafriendsoftibet@gmail.com

Sierra Friends of Tibet is pleased to announce the return of the Tibetan monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery’s Sacred Earth and Healing Arts Tour to Grass Valley March 13 through 28 in residence at the Banner Community Guild Hall, approximately one mile from the Nevada County Fairgrounds at 12629 McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.

This much anticipated yearly event will provide a full schedule of Tibetan cultural presentations for two weeks, giving area residents and visitors a chance to experience firsthand the unique culture of the Tibetan people and the rich traditions of Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism. The monks’ two week residency at the Banner Community Guild will include the creation of a beautiful sand Mandala, carefully constructed over the course of their visit following ancient symbolic designs. Each grain of sand will be carefully laid down by hand using techniques unchanged for millennia.  The public will be able to observe and enjoy this moving and meditative process, as the monks work in the beautiful Hall at the Banner Community Guild. In the evenings, talks on Tibetan Buddhist Philosophy, monastic life and other presentations related to Tibetan culture, history and Tibetan Buddhist practices and ceremonies will be offered. There will also be opportunities for the monks to visit schools, churches and organizations, do house, and land and business blessings, offering their ancient and hypnotic chants and prayers for prosperity, healing and happiness. Please be sure to check the schedule online at http://www.sierrafriendsoftibet.org and on our Facebook page.

This year Sierra Friends of Tibet decided it was time to create the Dukar (A Female Deity of the White Parasol). The Monks have not created a Dukar sand Mandala since their first visit in 2001 when a tragedy struck our local area. Not only did the Monks help all those affected by the tragedy, the sand Mandala also brought a huge snow storm which stopped more reminders of the tragedy and brought the community together. The sand Mandala will be painstakingly created over a period of sixteen days. The hall will be open daily for viewing from 10 a.m. until 6 or 7 p.m. during the course of the monks’ visit and dependent on their schedule.  When the Mandala is finished, there will be a special ritual to bless the Mandala and mark its completion. Following the blessing, the mandala will be ritually dissolved (always a “standing room only” event), highlighting by example the Buddhist view of impermanence.  The sand is then swept up into a pile, and small portions of the sand are offered as gifts to members of the audience. The rest of the sand is taken to a body of water (Deer Creek in Nevada City and Wolf Creek in Grass Valley on Sunday, March 29) where, after a short ceremony, it will be poured into the water as a blessing to purify the environment and all the beings that inhabit it.

According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the purpose, meaning and techniques involved in the creation of sand mandalas were originally taught by Buddha Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha) in the 6th century B.C. in India. Mandalas are created for rituals of initiation and for meditations, involving elaborate symbolism and iconography; mandalas are also created to purify the immediate environment and its inhabitants and to promote harmony in the world.

One of the biggest highlights of this visit will happen on Saturday, March 14 and Saturday, March 21 at 10 a.m. when there will be a Tibetan art program for the entire family (kids must be accompanied by a parent). There will be Buddhist Coloring Books to color in, butter sculptures to make, mandala line drawings to fill in with sand or to paint with watercolor or colored pencils, and Tibetan Calligraphy. The Monks will work with families and an enjoyable time is guaranteed for all. The last few years were very successful and we encourage families to attend.

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Other events include an evening of culture with chanting, debate and film of the monastery followed by question and answers with the Monks. Other events this year are Prayers for the sick, dying and recently deceased, a series of lectures on the Four Noble Truths which focus on relative reality and ultimate reality. There will also be a dinner with Monks followed by a movie.

The Sacred Arts of Tibet Tour has been visiting the United States since 1989 with a two-fold mission: to be of service to the world by helping to spread peace, compassion, and tolerance through cultural exchange, interfaith dialog, and Buddhist teachings; and also to raise funds that will provide for the education, medical needs, housing, food, education, and building maintenance for the monks at Gaden Shartse Monastery, which is located in a Tibetan Refugee Settlement near Mundgod in South India. 

Gaden Monastery is the original Buddhist monastery of the Gelug tradition of Tibet, the same lineage or tradition as the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso. According to Tibetan Buddhist tradition, the creation of the monastery was prophesied by the Buddha 1900 years prior to its actual establishment in 1409 CE. The monastery was originally housed on a large hillside about 30 miles east of Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet. Centuries ago there were an estimated 3,300 Monks. However the population grew to 5,000 monks by the time of the Chinese invasion in 1950. The original monastery was completely destroyed during the Chinese invasion of Tibet, and was re-established in the south of India by 48 surviving monks. The original land for a Tibetan refugee settlement, including Gaden Shartse monastery, was generously donated by the Indian government. It has taken incredible effort in the face of unthinkable challenges to keep this precious unbroken tradition of Tibetan Buddhist teachings and culture with us today. All funds raised during the 2020 tour are donated directly to the Gaden Shartse Monastery.

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