After the Dali Lama spoke this past Friday, a group of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery began the ritualistic wiping away of the Avalokiteśvara sand mandala. The event took place at WestConn's West Side Student Center.
The mandala, which took over 200 hours to complete, is a complex symbolization of several key ideas of Buddhist philosophy. The four 'walls' are differently colored to represent Buddhist deities which represent hatred, jealousy, ignorance, and misery. At the center is a lotus flower which represents Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion (generally, a Bodhisattva is a being which does not transcend into the realm of true enlightenment but rather exists in order to aid those who seek enlightenment).
After its ritual dismantling—which included chanting and clashing of cymbals, blowing of horns, and the ringing of a bell—the monks separated the mandala with long diagonal cuts before pouring water onto the central lotus flower. Then, it was wiped away with a brush, until only a pile of sand remained from what was once an awe-inspiring design.
Some of the sand was given to audience members in small plastic bags, and the remaining portion was collected to be dropped into the pond near Ives Concert Park. The dispersion symbolized the temporal existence of Earth and our world.