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Tibetan monks return to Roseville

Buddhist monks will construct sand mandala, perform ancient ceremonies
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Tibetan monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in India will pay a special visit to Roseville for 10 days in February.

The Center of Wellness, in collaboration with Sierra Friends of Tibet and Tibetech.org, will host the monks who come from the original Buddhist monastery of the Gelug tradition of Tibet. The Gelug, also known as “Yellow Hats,” is the order of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The public is invited to attend and observe the monks or participate in some of the ceremonies.

During their stay, the monks will construct a sand mandala at the Children’s Art Center in Roseville. These mandalas are labor intensive, requiring deep concentration, said Center of Wellness director Cerise LaCore in a press release.

“At times, the execution of the design even pivots on the placement of a single grain of salt,” LaCore said. “Each sand mandala’s cosmic diagram represents the dwelling place or celestial mansion of a particular deity. The intricate and multi-layered palaces are where iconography, placement, color and form combine to create a vision, which to a learned Tibetan monk represents the entire universe.”

After creating the mandalas, they dissolve them as a blessing to all present. The remaining sand is taken to a body of water where it is offered to bless and purify all beings within the surrounding environment.

These monks tour the world to spread peace, harmony, compassion and tolerance through cultural exchange, interfaith dialogue and Buddhist teachings, LaCore said. They also try to raise funds for the education, maintenance, housing and medical needs of monks at Gaden Shartse Monastery located in a Tibetan refugee settlement in Mundgod, India.

The monastery, now exiled in southern India, was founded in 1409. Scholars often compare the monastery to a university, LaCore said. Gaden was reputed to have more than 5,000 monks at the time of the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1950. Thousands of monasteries were destroyed and hundreds of thousands of Tibetans perished.

“It has taken incredible effort on behalf of the Tibetan people to preserve their precious unbroken lineage of teachings through unimaginable challenges,” LaCore said.

During their visit, the monks will perform a variety of events, including ancient multiphonic chanting — a sacred offering to Buddhist deities — and the Kangso, which combines chanting with temple instruments. Typically, this ritual lasts 18 hours in the monastery, so the monks will only provide a small sample locally.

The monks will also perform “A Journey to the Roof of the World,” featuring ornate costumes, Himalayan music and dancing. At the monastery, these dances are part of an elaborate ritual that lasts from one day to two weeks. Mastering the dances require years of intensive training and proper initiations. This sacred dance is used to transform negativities and obstacles into positive, harmonic conditions.

“Essentially, consciousness enters as a demon, is transformed and exits as a deity,” LaCore said.

~ Sena Christian

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Gaden Shartse Tibetan monks visit Roseville
When:
Friday, Feb. 4, to Sunday, Feb. 13
Where: The Children’s Art Center, 190 Park Drive (inside Royer Park off Douglas Boulevard) in Roseville
Cost: Free, but donations suggested. All donations go to the nonprofit Gaden Shartse Cultural Foundation.
Info: The monks will perform a variety of events. For a complete schedule, visit www.thecenterofwellness.net.

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Unity Church of Roseville is also hosting the Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Gaden Shartse Norling Monastery, who will conduct a special ceremony from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday, Feb. 6, at the Lion’s Club building, 107 Sutter St. in Roseville. The monks will perform the Chay Drol Group Healing Empowerment ceremony. For more information, visit http://www.unityroseville.com/.