Monks return to Laguna Beach for Tibetan Cultural Arts Tour to create mandala dedicated to world peace

After a five-year hiatus, the Drepung Gomang monks of India will return to Laguna Beach for a week for their Sacred Tibetan Arts Tour. Seven monks and their driver will offer a glimpse into their culture from April 14-21. The holy men are scholars from Tibet’s oldest monastery and direct disciples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They will construct a mandala, an intricate design made from fine, multi-colored sand, sing their unique trichord chanting at the beginning and end of each day, perform blessings to conjure positive energy at homes and businesses, and present pujas.

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Photos courtesy of Drepung Gomang Monastery

 Making the world peace sand mandala

Pujas are stylized rituals that combine chanting, music, prayer and visualizations using Tibetan instruments and multi-tonal singing. Guests may visit to watch the monks construct the sand mandala at Healy House on the grounds of the Sawdust Art Festival. Events are open to the public; donations are gratefully accepted. All proceeds support the 2,000-plus monks who live at the Drepung Gomang Monastery in Mundgod, India, and their educational and spiritual efforts toward world peace.

A full schedule and details can be found by clicking here. Their mission and history can be found by clicking here.

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The monks in ceremonial garb

The mandala dissolution ceremony at the end of their visit on Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m. will be memorable. After laboring over their detailed design all week, the monks will sweep it into a pile of sand and give guests small packets to remind them of life’s impermanence and the importance of good works. They will then proceed to Main Beach on foot with anyone who cares to join, accompanied by drums and cymbals, then chant and cast the remaining sand into the ocean as a reminder of the transient nature of all things.

For the eighth time, a volunteer committee of organizers led by musician Pam Wicks has arranged their accommodations in a private home, as well as their meals and transportation. Wicks said, “We feel fortunate to welcome the monks to Laguna again. They have traveled across the United States to various communities like ours since last August. Having them as our guests to share their art, culture and blessings is a marvelous opportunity for everyone in our community to learn about this struggling nation’s history, culture and Tibetan Buddhism.

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The Drepung Gomang monks, direct disciples of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, at the door of the monastery in Mundgod in southern India

“We wish to acknowledge and thank the Sawdust Festival community for once again opening their hearts and donating their beautiful property as the site of this event,” Wicks added. “Likewise, we are grateful to the Neighborhood Congregational Church for their collaboration and generosity in providing their campus for three evening events on April 15, 17 and 20.”

Visitors can observe morning and evening chanting rituals and watch the mandala creation from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, April 14-21. Note: On April 18 and 20, the hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

From April 14-21, the monks will offer house blessings at homes, offices, galleries, studios and churches by prior appointment. For information and scheduling or to volunteer, contact Pam Wicks at pwicks23@gmail.com.

The Sawdust Festival grounds are located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Metered parking is available. The Neighborhood Congregational Church is located at 340 St. Ann’s Drive, Laguna Beach (parking off Glenneyre).

Tibetan prayer flags are available for $15 for a five-foot length. The bright cloth flags will fly at the Sawdust Festival grounds, be blessed by the monks and then be given to each donor at the conclusion of their visit. In Tibetan Buddhism, colorful prayer flags are printed with auspicious symbols, invocations, prayers and mantras promoting peace, wisdom and compassion. It is said that the wind spreads goodwill to all beings. For information about prayer flags, email monksvisitlaguna@gmail.com.


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