Tibetan monks create sacred sand mandala in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Sacred Art Tour featuring Eight Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India is currently at Florida CraftArt.

The tour is to “to share and preserve the spiritually artistic expression of the Tibetan culture.”

The highlight is the creation of Sacred Sand Green Tara Sand Mandala, a female representation of the Buddha of Compassion, embodies fearlessness, removes obstacles and offers protection from suffering.

It will take the monks six days to complete the mandala using funnel-shaped tools called Chakpurs. The Chakpur is filled with sand and rasped, causing the sand to slide down the tub and out the tip.

When the mandala is completed, there will be a dissolution celebration. During this ceremony, the mandala will be swept up and destroyed. It symbolizes that nothing in life lasts forever.

The public is invited to watch the creation of the mandala free of charge at Florida CraftArt in downtown St. Petersburg. There will also be group meditation, rock painting and Q&A sessions.

Below is a schedule of the remaining events.

Thursday, May 31

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala

5:30 p.m. Join the monks for a twilight dinner at The Don Cesar terrace on St. Pete Beach. Following with a sunset ceremony and special performance by the monks, as well as blessing The Don on its 90th anniversary. It costs $60 per person, includes a complimentary cocktail. It’s a fantastic event not to be missed!

Friday, June 1

10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala at Florida CraftArt.

4-5:15 p.m. Guided group meditation with Pegie Stark that compliments the monks’ teachings. Bring a pillow to sit on.

Saturday, June 2

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Creation of Sacred Sand Mandala

10:30 a.m. to noon or 2-4 p.m.Rock Painting Workshop: The monks will show how to paint Tibetan symbols on rocks. Each participant can paint their own rock as a keepsake. It costs $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

7:00 p.m. “Tibetan Buddhist Response to our Times.” Join the monks for a panel discussion, followed by Q&A. They will discuss relevant topics; as well as blending “Basic Meditation Practice” and “Elements of Lojong (training the mind).” The event is free and all welcome, an interpreter will be onsite.

Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Pete, 100 Mirror Lake Drive N, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.

Sunday, June 3

Noon: Finalization of Mandala

1 p.m. Dissolution Ceremony: The mandala is swept up and shared with our community in a ceremony of gratitude and blessings, followed by a procession to the bay where the monks deposit sand from the mandala and perform a Buddhist blessing.

The Sacred Art Tour supports the Drepung Gomang Monastery, which houses 2,000 monks, and provides food, health care and education for monks living in exile from their home country of Tibet.

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