Sand Mandala

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. As with the Buddhist tradition as a whole, sand painting has its roots in the tantric legacy of Buddhist India, extending back more than 20,000 years to the time preceding the migration of native North Americans from Central Asia. Thus we see similarities between the Buddhist arts and the sand painting traditions of the natives of the Southwestern United States, such as the Hopi and the Navajo.

Join in the Sand Mandala Closing Procession

Attendees to Free Public Event to Receive Keepsake Sand and Prayer Flags

As part of the Sand Mandala closing ceremony on Friday, May 17 at 4:30 p.m., Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Loseling monastery will sweep up the sand mandala that they created over the preceding four days and take it in a public procession to the Mississippi River. The sand will be poured into the river's moving waters, and it's blessings will be carried to all parts of the world. The ceremonial destruction of the sand mandala symbolizes the impermanence of all things.

Spectators are encouraged to join in the procession, following the monks to the river. The monks, dressed in traditional maroon robes, will lead the ritual procession, blowing horns and chanting along the way. The procession will travel along Convention Center Blvd. turning left on Henderson Street to reach the river via Mardi Gras World.

Attendees will receive small parcels of sand, blessed by the monk, as keepsakes to commemorate this once-in-a-lifetime event. Limited quantity available.

Source: Sonoma State University Art Gallery

Morial Convention Center New Orleans Theater Hall G Lobby


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Creation of Sand Mandala
Noon - Sand Mandala Opening Ceremony

Wednesday, May 15, 2013
9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. - Creation of Sand Mandala

Thursday, May 16, 2013
10:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. - Creation of Sand Mandala

Friday, May 17, 2013
9:00 a.m. - Noon - Creation of Sand Mandala
Noon - 4:30 p.m. - Viewing of Completed Sand Mandala
4:30 p.m. - Sand Mandala Closing Ceremony
5:00 p.m. - Sand Mandala Closing Procession from Convention Center to the Mississippi River via Mardi Gras World

From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks.

Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.

The lamas begin the work by drawing an outline of the mandala on the wooden platform, which requires the remainder of the day. The following days see the laying of the colored sands, which is effected by pouring the sand from traditional metal funnels called chak-purs. Each monk holds a chak-pur in one hand, while running a metal rod on its grated surface; the vibration causes the sands to flow like liquid.

Traditionally most sand mandalas are deconstructed shortly after their completion. This is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.

— Mystic Arts of Tibet

Click here to learn more about the mandala construction process
Join us for the closing ceremony on Friday, May 17 at 4:30 p.m. as the monks walk from the Morial Convention Center to the Mississippi River and disperse the sand into the flowing water.