Buddhist Monks Aim to Heal Flooded Musikfest Site

Starting with ceremonial ritual today, Tibetan monks of Drepung Loseling will craft a mandala, a sacred sand painting, as the artists in residence at Handwerkplatz.


With more than a day to go before the opening of Musikfest, a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks today will practice a ceremonial ritual aimed at bringing environmental healing to Handwerkplatz, in the final days of the 2011 festival.

The monks of Drepung Loseling Monastery, the Center for Tibetan Studies in Atlanta, will be in Bethlehem until Monday as the festival’s artists in residence, according to an ArtsQuest news release.

During that time, the monks will be creating a 9-foot-by-9-foot mandala sand painting – “Amitayus” – at Handwerkplatz. Amitayus is one of the deities of long life in Tibetan Buddhism.

“The mural will be meticulously crafted using thousands upon thousands of grains of colored sand, signifying environmental healing at the site,” the news release says.

Handwerkplatz – the festival home of crafters, artists and artisans – is one of two platzes in the Colonial Industrial Quarter along the banks of the Monocacy Creek.

Heavy rains caused the creek to on the next to last day of Musikfest 2011, damaging merchandise and forcing ArtsQuest to close Handwerkplatz and neighboring Volksplatz for the festival’s last two days.

Nonetheless, the crafters for this year's festival.

At noon today, the public is invited to join the monks for a special ceremony preparing the site for the mandala – a sacred and spiritual art form in the Buddhist tradition.

During the ritual, there will be music, meditation and mantras as the monks evoke spiritual forces. At the conclusion, the Lamas will then begin the process of sketching and creating the mandala, a process expected to take several days.

At the conclusion of their residency, the monks will carefully sweep away the sand from the mandala, sharing it with the audience and depositing the remainder into the Monocacy Creek, symbolizing the impermanence of life.

The event will take place during a closing ceremony, set for Aug. 6 at 7 p.m.


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