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Buddhist monks craft sand mandala as a gesture of peace


"How do people feel it? Like air. Air we can't see it, but we can feel it. Same with the power of the mandala going to everyone."

Nothing lasts forever.

We’ve all heard the phrase before, but those who follow the Buddhist faith live it.

It’s why the religion discourages attachment to material things.

Attachment leads to greed. Greed leads to anger. Anger leads to ignorance, explained Uttam Barua, who become a monk at the age of 13.

President of the Buddhist Centre of Regina, which celebrated its one year anniversary this summer, Barua spoke of the need for more peace in our time.

It’s why, on somewhat of a whim, he planned an event designed to bring compassion and happiness to the people of Regina through the power of the sand mandala.

“It is to bring peace and harmony in our society,” said Barua of the 2,500-year-old tradition.

Over the span of five days, Aug. 29-Sept.1, five famous Tibetan monks from the Dzongkar Choede Monastery in India carefully constructed an intricately designed mandala using coloured sand.

It is the first mandala to be constructed in full in Regina, said Barua.

Circular in shape, the mandala is meant to represent the universe and all that live in it. The creation of one fosters connection, respect, peace and harmony between all living things, according to Barua.

For 12 to 14 hours at a time, the monks sat in deep concentration bringing the mandala to life. Vibrant greens, yellows, oranges, blues and reds filled the circle with a combination of geometric designs and flowing lines.

A lotus flower at the centre symbolizes compassion.

“It is not only art,” explained Barua. “Monks during their work, they’re chanting.”

Chants of wisdom, love and kindness are said to release positive energy. They are prayers for everyone regardless of faith.

“How do people feel it? Like air. Air, we can’t see it, but we can feel it. Same with the power of the mandala going to everyone,” said Barua. “Without passion, without kindness, it is impossible to create this mandala.”

It also requires intense training and education, he said. Only monks who go to a university or college to study the tradition and pass a test are allowed to create mandalas.

Over 100 people gathered in the Buddhist Centre of Regina on Sunday evening to see the finished product, which had been set up behind red velvet ropes and among bowls of fruit, vases of flowers and colourful tablecloths.

The room burst with colour and curiosity as people listened to one of the monks describe the tradition of mandala making through a translator.

The night ended the same way this story began, a lesson in the transitory nature of material things.

The mandala was created and then destroyed to symbolize that nothing lasts forever.

“According to the Buddhist teaching, we say everything is impermanent,” said Barua.

According to Barua, the event was planned in just two weeks, but people from Prince Albert, Swift Current and Moose Jaw came to check it out and some are already asking when it will happen again.

Maybe in 2020, mused Barua.

In the meantime, he invites the people of Regina to come and explore the Buddhist Centre. Everyone, regardless of faith, is welcome.

There are free medication classes on Thursdays and a Sunday school equivalent for kids ages six to 12 years old, where children learn how to love others, respect their seniors, appreciate their parents and more.

“I am not trying to change anyone’s religion,” said Barua. “I (am) just trying to do my best to (teach the) art of happiness and moral education.”

jackerman@postmedia.com

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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