Sand Mandala 2018: Echoes of the Sacred

September 21, 2018 | By More

October 11-13

Ottawa City Hall

As you come closer, you can just make it out – a soft vibrating sound.  It takes a while to see that it comes from the metal implements the four monks are holding in their hands.  Scrape, scrape, scrape… In one hand, they hold a pencil-like funnel, filled with coloured sand.  The other holds a small metal rod, which they slide over the bumpy surface of the funnel, with the resulting vibration propelling the sand out of a small hole in the tip.

The monks are rapt in concentration, focusing on the intricate design of the sand mandala they are creating.  Tiny ridges of bright blue, tiny dollops of crimson red, tiny white lines.  Their mouths are covered to prevent an inadvertent cough from ruining the refined work.  Red robes carefully arranged, they are bent over each side of a square, where they have already carefully drawn the intricate design of the mandala upon the wooden platform.  Now they are spending three days filling it in with sand.

The Tibetan word for mandala, khyil-khor, means ‘that which encircles a centre’, and at the centre of the sand mandala is the enlightened being, the Buddha, whose energy is being invoked. Whether male or female, peaceful or wrathful, the deity at the centre represents the energy of compassion and wisdom emanating in the world. Although the mandala is created as a two-dimensional image, it is visualized three-dimensionally as the palace or temple of the deity, traditionally constructed in a square shape with great doors that open on all four sides, symbolizing the idea that the gates to enlightenment face in all directions.

Each Buddha manifests the qualities of enlightened mind, and since our own primordial nature is not other than this very same enlightened mind, we can actualize the wisdom and compassion of our own minds by connecting with the deity. This connection and the awakening of our own enlightened qualities is the ultimate meaning and purpose of the mandala.

The artist-monks will come from India, Tibet, and the US to create the sand mandala at Ottawa City Hall October 11-13, 2018. As well as the opportunity to experience the making of the mandala, the three-day event will include a Tibetan bazaar, a healing empowerment focused on the energy of the Medicine Buddha, and a concert performance featuring Tibetan ritual musical instruments and sacred Lama dances performed by the monks.  At the end of the third day, the sand mandala will be destroyed, reminding us of the impermanence of all things.

It is considered a special blessing to witness the creation of a sand mandala.  The entire process is FREE for public viewing, so please join us!

For ticket purchases to the other events, please go to: and search under “Echoes of the Sacred”

Hosted by The Ottawa Palyul Centre

Category: Articles, Spirituality & Meditation

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