The sand mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and also destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. In the ritual, a group of monks create an elaborate and very intricately designed piece of art using colored sand. The artwork holds much symbolism, and is geometrically laid out in detail. It can take days, and even weeks to build the mandala, as each monk uses special tools to pour the sand in just the right way to create the design. They start from the center outward, and usually work in shifts around the clock. They work quietly, which much concentration and attention. It is quite intense, and absolutely beautiful with all of the colors.
Once the mandala is complete it is surrounded by candles, and there is often chanting performed around it. This is when we stand in awe at the beauty of this mandala, when we take in its beauty, and express gratitude for having witnessed it.

And then, in a very ritualistic ceremony, one monk stands and sweeps the mandala away. The design is gone, the colors merge, and we are left with a pile of sand. The destruction of the mandala is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. It is a reminder to us to appreciate and give gratitude for what is before us while it is there. It is a symbol of the Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.
The sand is swept up and placed in an urn. Half of the sand is distributed to those watching the closing ceremony. The other half is carried to a nearby body of water, where it is deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there is spreads throughout the world for planetary healing. So although the mandala, in all of its glory, is no longer physically present, it still serves a very important purpose.

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