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Buddhist Sand Mandala Brings Message to St. Petersburg

Buddhists | Religion | Mandala

By SHELLY STECK REALE, Correspondent, TB Reporter

The sand mandala is painstakingly created a grain at a time then destroyed to underscore the Buddhist belief that nothing is permanent.

ST. PETERSBURG – It was painstaking work; millions of tiny grains of colored sand, laid one by one over the course of six days until a piece of art emerged in breathtaking detail.

The creation was part of the 2018 Sacred Art Tour, an event that brings eight Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, India, to help raise awareness of Tibetan culture, share traditions, and spread lessons of compassion. The exhibition, presented by Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., ran May 29 through Sunday (June 3). It included Tai Chi demonstrations, daily chanting, rock painting workshops, panel discussions, meditation practices, and more.

But, the main event was the creation of a Sacred Sand Mandala, an ancient Tibetan art form. The finished piece contained 21 separate patterns, using five vibrant colors, each representing the five tribes of Buddha. After six days, and countless hours of delicate work, the finished piece was ritualistically swept up and shared with the community through a Dissolution Ceremony.

More than 600 spectators packed the inside of Florida CraftArt and lined the sidewalk outside to watch the ceremony.

Once completed, the grains of sand were carefully placed into a wooden bowl created by local artist, Nick Reale, then carried in a procession through downtown St. Pete to Demens Landing. Along the way spectators joined in, keeping step with the monks, and taking selfies. One small boy grasped a monk’s hand and held it tight for several blocks. Despite the language barrier, the two chatted, smiling warmly at one another.

Upon arrival at Demens Landing, the monks performed a traditional Buddhist blessing of compassion before scattering the sand into the bay in hopes that the current would carry their blessing throughout the world.

Photos by Shelly Steck Reale.

Editor’s note: Artist Nick Reale is married to Shelly Steck Reale. He is also Tampa Bay Reporter’s technical editor.

Sand Mandala | Tibetan Monks | Religion | Art | Florida CraftArt | Tampabay News

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Buddhist Sand Mandala Brings Message to St. Petersburg
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Buddhist Sand Mandala Brings Message to St. Petersburg
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The sand mandala is painstakingly created a grain at a time then destroyed to underscore the Buddhist belief that nothing is permanent.
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TB Reporter
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