One of our visits in Kathmandu was to a Buddhist monastery where the monks make sand Mandalas.
Historically, the mandala was not created with natural, dyed sand, but granules of crushed coloured stone. In modern times, plain white stones are ground down and dyed with opaque inks to achieve the same effect. Before laying down the sand, the monks assigned to the project will draw the geometric measurements associated with the mandala. The sand granules are then applied using small tubes, funnels, and scrapers, called chak-pur until the desired pattern over-top is achieved. Sand mandalas traditionally take several weeks to build due to the large amount of work involved in laying down the sand in such intricate detail. It is common that a team of monks will work together on the project, creating one section of the diagram at a time, working from the centre outwards.
The destruction of a sand mandala is also highly ceremonial. Even the deity syllables are removed in a specific order along with the rest of the geometry until at last the mandala has been dismantled. The sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and transported to a river (or any place with moving water), where it is released back into nature. This symbolizes the ephemerality of life and the world.
The interior of the temple was a stunning display of color and beautiful designs.
It was fascinating to see the process, but there is another story to be told.
One of the ladies in our group bought a number of children’s story books to give away.
Just outside the temple gates were two little boys playing. Their faces were dirty, their clothes in rags, but they had the biggest smiles. They followed us for a short time. The other ladies had gone into the temple, but friend Pam pulled the two books out of the bag and gave one to each of the boys.
The looks on their faces were just priceless. They couldn’t believe it.
They took off running as if afraid that we would take them back again.
Read your Grandies a story tonight folks.