The cycle of existence in many and bright colors

As part of its weeklong Grand Opening Celebration, downtown Buddhist center Urban Dharma hosted the “Vast and Noble Heart Sand Mandala.”  The mandala ritual involves the extremely precise construction of Tibetan Buddhist iconography with colored sand.

Using straws and funnels, monks and other practitioners work together for as long as a few weeks on the intricate depictions. At Urban Dhrama, Ven. Khenpo Choephel Rinpoche, resident-lama of Three Rivers Dharma Center on Pittsburgh, Pa, and Ven. Lama Konchok Sonam, head-lama of Drikung Meditation Centerin Boston, presided over the five-day ritual.

And what happens with the delicate, detailed construction in the end? In the course of a vigil, the mandala will be deconstructed (e.g., swept into an urn) and ceremonially spilled into the French Broad River by 12 Bones on Riverside Drive. The “Dissolution of Mandala and Walk of Compassion Procession” takes place on Sunday, July 22, starting at 2:30 p.m. For more information about Urban Dharma and the week’s remaining events, visit

Photos by Max Cooper


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