December 12 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 15, 2013
A Norwich theatre was the stage for a colourful spiritual spectacle with an intricate masterpiece made of sand at its heart.
Tibetan Buddhist Monks were in residence at Norwich Playhouse all this week, sharing their culture and spending five days painstakingly arranging coloured grains to create a beautiful sand mandala in the venue’s Playroom.
Then today, after countless hours of crafting their symbolic Buddhist work of art, the monks held a special final ceremony that saw the mandala swept away and scattered in the Wensum to the sounds of longhorns being played by the bridge.
Scores of people gathered to watch the ceremony and procession that was full of prayers, chants and music-making.
The monks - from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery now based in India - had been visiting Norwich Playhouse as part of a national tour.
Jane Rasch, who runs the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery UK Trust, explained that the sand mandala represented a palace within which the monks invite the Buddha to visit. She said in the monastery the construction of the mandala is followed by six days of meditation before it is destroyed.
She said: “The idea is that they bring the Buddha to this world.
“This Mandala is a palace to invite Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion.
“The intention is that the monks come closer to understanding the Buddha’s compassion.
“But the Buddha cannot stay in our realm and so the Buddha is thanked and sent back to their realm.”
About today’s ceremony, she said: “The whole ceremony is a blessing that the monks hope will bring a feeling of compassion and kindness to the people.”
The monks previously visited Norwich Playhouse about four years ago, and during their visit this week they also presented The Power of Compassion, a performance of masked dance and sacred chant.
Following the final ceremony, Caroline Richardson, general manager of Norwich Playhouse, said: “It has been very joyous to have the monks visit the Playhouse. They have worked incredibly hard on the sand mandala and it has been wonderful having them here.” She added: “There was a really huge turnout to the final ceremony. I am really glad so many people came to experience something that is rare in this part of the world.
“I wonder how many people here would have heard of a sand mandala before this week.
“The whole theme of compassion and kindness is a good one to have in this world today.”
• Visit www.tashi-lhunpo.org.uk