Sera-Je Lamas Creating a Sand Mandala
The Monks of Sera-Je Monastery

Photography by Phoebe R. Hunter, Missoula, Montana, USA

During their visit to Missoula, the monks of Sera-Je Monastery graciously agreed to create a sand mandala of the Fire Puja of Hayagriva. Their work began at 9:00 in the morning in the atrium of the University Center on the campus of the University of Montana. With just a short lunch break, three monks completed the mandala by 3:30 in the afternoon. With over 100 people attending, Geshe Nyingje then began the deconstruction process after all the monks in the group chanted prayers requesting the deities of the mandala to return to their "natural abode." First, Geshe-la removed the symbols that represented the deities that live in the mandala, then he "broke" the diagonal lines that defined the axes of the mandala. At this point, the mandala was no longer the sacred abode, but just colored sand once again. The monks then swept up the sand and placed it in a glass jar, which they carried in procession to the Clark Fork River. After chanting again, Geshe Sonam (the mandala team leader) poured the consecrated sand into the river, blessing the beings that live in and near it.

This series of pictures by Missoula photographer Phoebe R. Hunter, captures about half of the process. In the first picture, the monks have resumed work after taking a lunch break.

Creating the sand mandala. Creating the sand mandala.
Creating the sand mandala. Creating the sand mandala.
Creating the sand mandala. Dismantling the sand mandala.
Dismantlinging the sand mandala. Chanting prayers before pouring the sand into the river.
Geshe-la pours the consecrated sand into the Clark Fork River to bless the beings that live there.
Pictures of the Sera-Je Monks in Missoula

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