Of all the artistic traditions of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, painting with coloured sand is one of the most exquisite.  Mandalas are representations of the celestial mansion of one or more deities, who may be surrounded by their retinues, and other protectors.    To make the Mandala, millions of grains of coloured sand are placed painstakingly in an elaborate design laid down in the Buddhist texts, which is memorised during the monks’ training.  The material used is marble dust coloured by the monks in the monastery.  In ancient times, powdered precious and semi-precious stones were used – truly a jewel of a structure was formed. 

Once the final grain of sand has been placed on the table, the Mandala is visualised as the residence of the enlightened beings, who the monks invite inside, and from whom they request help in achieving their wishes with prayers and meditations in the temple lasting several days.  The enlightened being or Buddha remains within the Mandala until the closing ceremony, when great thanks and appreciation are offered to him for the gift of his presence, after which he is asked respectfully to leave.  The Mandala is then destroyed by sweeping the sand into the centre of the table from each of the four corners.  The sand is then distributed in running water so that each of the blessed grains of sand reaches as far as possible for the benefit of all sentient beings.  




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