Sand Mandalas are a Tibetan Buddhist tradition where the monk will spend weeks creating the design out of colored sand and then destroy the masterful and intricate work of art.

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The Mandalas are dismantled in a special ritual ceremony once they are completed and people have had a chance to view the unique work of art. Breaking it down once the mandala is finished demonstrates a beautiful Buddhist doctrinal belief about the transitionary nature of our mortal lives.

On a symbolic level, it shows us how we design and build beauty in our lives and then when we are done our energy returns into the earth.

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The ancient tradition dictates that the mandala be created from crushed colored stone instead of dyed sand.

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However in modern times plain white stones are ground down into powder and dyed with various vibrant inks in order to achieve the same effect visually.

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Before the monks lay down the sand they will measure out the designs using sacred geometry and specialized measurements.

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Small tubes are used to apply the sand granuales onto the mandala. The monks also use funnels and scrapers known as chak-pur in order to sculpt the perfect design.

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These incredible mandalas become an active meditation for the monks and will take several weeks to complete. It takes a very long time to add all of the colors and layers to the design.

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Many of these mandalas we created by a team of monks who work together on the project. They will start in the center and then work their way out doing one section at a time.

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Once the design is finished and people are allowed to see the design there is a ceremony to destroy the design. If the mandala contained symbols of deitys then they are even removed in a specific order. The different symbols are also dismantled in a special order until the whole mandala is completely dismantled.

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After the Mandala is dismantled the sand is collected into a jar and then after being wrapped in silk it is carried down to a river or area with running water. Then the sand is returned to nature in order to symbolize the ephemerality (brief existance) of our life and the world itself.

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Check out this timelapse of the whole ceremony.


Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sand_mandala

http://timewheel.net/Image-These-Intricate-Tibetan-Sand-Paintings-Are-Swept-Away-Upon