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Florida CraftArt to present art of Buddhist monks

Florida CraftArt to present art of Buddhist monks

Tibetan Monks often work four at a time to create the sand Mandala.

ST. PETERSBURG – From May 29 through June 3, Dalai Lama sanctioned monks will create a Sand Mandala with millions of colored grains of sand at Florida CraftArt, 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

The program also will feature artistic workshops and cultural events.

Eight Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India will again bring to St. Petersburg teachings of ancient ways and beliefs that create the possibility of global peace, non-violent conflict resolution, compassion and wisdom. Highlighting their trip to St. Petersburg will be the creation of a Sacred Green Tara Sand Mandala (Dol jang) in the Florida CraftArt exhibition gallery. The Green Tara, a female representation of the Buddha of Compassion, embodies fearlessness, removes obstacles, and offers protection from suffering.

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This visit is part of the monk’s nationwide 2018 Sacred Arts Tour to share and preserve the spiritually artistic expression of the Tibetan culture. The monks demonstrate and express their peaceful ways through living art, ritual, dance and chanting.

An opening ceremony will take place Tuesday, May 29, 10:15 a.m., at Florida CraftArt.

The monks will chant, play long Tibetan horns and consecrate the site of the Mandala. Immediately following, they begin the creation of the Mandala by first drawing the lines for the design on a base and then begin filling it in with colored sand. Throughout the six-day creation of the Sacred Mandala, the monks pour millions of grains of sand through a Chakpur, which is a funnel-shaped tool. This funnel is filled with colored sand and then rasped to release a fine stream of sand. At 5 p.m. Tuesday, there will be a Tai Chi demonstration and mini-participatory class.

Sand paintings are an ancient art form of Tibetan Buddhism. “Mandala” is a Sanskrit word meaning “cosmogram” or “world in harmony.” Drawn in three-dimensional forms of sand, this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor in Tibetan, signifying “Mandala of colored powders.” In general, Mandalas have an outer, inner and secret meaning. On the outer level, they represent the world in its divine form; on the inner level, they represent a map of which the ordinary human mind is transformed into the enlightened mind; and on the secret level, they predict the primordial perfect balance of the subtle energies of the body and the clear light dimensions of the mind. The creation of a sandpainting is said to affect purification and healing on these three levels.

In addition to the continuation of the creation of the Sacred Mandala throughout the monk’s St. Petersburg visit, the following events will be presented:

• Daily at 10:15 a.m. and 4 p.m. – The monks will chant daily.

• Wednesday, May 30, 5:30 to 7 p.m. – There will be a reception at Florida CraftArt featuring Tibetan Culture, including the Lucky Dance and the Snow Lion Dance. Cost is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

• Thursday, May 31, 5:30 p.m. – A Florida CraftArt members-only twilight dinner with the monks take place at The Don CeSar terrace on St. Pete Beach, which will be followed by a sunset ceremony and special performance and blessing of the Don on its 90th anniversary. Cost is $60 per person. RSVP is required.

• Friday, June 1, 4 p.m. – There will be a guided group meditation with Pegie Stark to compliment the teachings of the monks. People should bring a pillow on which to sit.

• Saturday, June 2, 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. – The monks will show how to paint Tibetan symbols on rock. Each participant can paint their own rock as a keepsake. Cost for each session is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

• Saturday, June 2, 7 to 8 p.m. – The Unitarian Universalist Church will host a panel discussion with the monks (facilitated by a translator) as they react to our times blending basic meditation practice and elements of Lojong (training the mind). This event is free to the public.

• Sunday, June 3, noon – The monks will finalize the Mandala and at 1 p.m., they will hold the Dissolution Ceremony. During this ceremony of gratitude and blessing, the Mandala is swept up and shared with our community and will be followed by a procession to the bay, where the monks will deposit sand from the Mandala and perform a Buddhist blessing.

Tickets can be obtained online at /www.floridacraftart.org/events/tibetan-monks-sacred-sand-mandala-2018.

The Sacred Art Tour supports the Drepung Gomang Monastery which houses 2,000 monks, provides food, health care and education for monks living in exile from their home country of Tibet. Between 1959 and 1961, most of Tibet’s 6,000 monasteries were destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution. The Dalai Lama escaped, accepted land from India, and established the Tibetan government in exile. Since 1959, Tibetans have reestablished their monasteries in India, housing tens of thousands of monks, and creating schools, hospitals, libraries and archives so they can continue their traditions and culture. Handcrafted items by Tibetan artisans will be available for purchase during the cultural tour.

As the monks have taken vows of poverty, Florida CraftArt is responsible for housing and feeding them during their visit. AARP Tampa Bay is the presenting sponsor, the Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg is a patron sponsor, and the apartment complex Beacon 430 has generously donated living quarters. Barkett Realty is a contributing sponsor.

Florida CraftArt is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and headquartered in St. Petersburg. Its mission is to grow the statewide creative economy by engaging the community and advancing Florida’s fine craft artists and their work. Fine craft art is presented in its 2,500-square-foot retail gallery and curated exhibitions are featured in its adjacent exhibition gallery. Florida CraftArt is the only statewide organization offering artists a platform to show and sell their work.

Admission is free. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

For information, visit www.FloridaCraftArt.org or call 727-821-7391.

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