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By Design, Buddhist Monks’ Painstaking Sand Painting Is Swept Away into Santa Barbara Harbor

Mandala heralds renovation of Asian galleries at Santa Barbara Museum of Art

Denizens of Lower State Street got a shock Sunday when four Buddhist monks led a procession of around 75 people to Stearns Wharf from the Santa Barbara Museum of Art.

The monks had spent the better part of a week creating a colorful sand mandala at the art museum, 1130 State St., and after a closing ceremony, immediately disposed of the sand in a body of water as per Buddhist tradition.

In Buddhism, the circular mandala is a sacred image used as a meditation aid, which can be drawn, painted, modeled or danced. At the center of the sand painting resides a deity, which is the focus of a particular meditation or initiation practice. Through visualization practices, under the guidance of a teacher, practitioners transform their vision of the world into one of order and clarity.

The four monks, from the Sera Monastery in Mysore in the southern state of Karnataka in India, worked on the sand mandala as part of a series of events surrounding the renovation of the Santa Barbara Museum of Art’s Asian galleries. Their progress could be observed during museum hours most of last week.

At the closing ceremony, the four monks recited a prayer chant, and then neatly dismantled the sand mandala by sweeping it into a ceremonial pot. The monks deposited the sand in the Santa Barbara Harbor off of Stearns Wharf, a symbolic act representing the Buddhist teachings of impermanence and nonattachment.

Noozhawk intern Nick St.Oegger can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to see more of his photography. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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