A group of monks representing the Mystical Arts of Tibet will be in Maine next week to demonstrate the ancient art of sand painting, which is also an expression of prayer. Over four days beginning Monday at St. Joseph’s College in Standish, the monks will create a painting with colored sand, laying into place millions of grains of sand in a painstaking process. In the Tibetan language, this art is called “dul-tson-kyil-khor,” which means “mandala of colored powders.”
The monks are part of the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta. They travel across country to promote world peace and healing by sharing Tibet’s cultural traditions with modern audiences. The sand-painted mandala is an ancient tool for healing the earth and its inhabitants. The demonstration offers an opportunity to witness a sacred tradition, said Geshe Loden, a spokesperson for the monastery.
Their appearance coincides with the opening of the Center for Faith and Spirituality at Saint Joseph’s, which the college hopes will provide space and opportunity for spiritual development.
The public is welcome to watch the monks as they create their painting, which will take place in the Stone Barn. The barn is across Whites Bridge Road from the main campus entrance.
The process begins at 1 p.m. Monday with an opening ceremony that includes an invocation, blessing and music. The monks will work on their creation until 6 p.m. Monday, then resume from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The demonstration will end with a closing ceremony from 5 to 6 p.m. Thursday.
When the painting is complete and the exhibition closes, the sand painting will be deconstructed.
“People are always sad to see that,” Loden said. “They ask, why are you destroying it when it takes so much time to create? Everything is impermanent.”
The sand is placed in an urn, and half is distributed to the audience during the closing ceremony. The other half goes into a nearby body of water, which carries the healing blessings to the ocean and throughout the world, Loden said.
“It’s part of the cycle of blessing,” he said.
WHEN: Opening ceremony 1 p.m. Monday; 10 to 6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; closing ceremony at 5 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: Stone Barn, St. Joseph’s College, 278 Whites Bridge Road, Standish