Seven monks. Five days. Millions of grains of sand. In the end, there was nothing to show for the 40-plus hours of work.
The monks of the Drepung Gomang Monastic College of South India are on a U.S. tour to promote peace and raise money for their monestary. They rolled into Miami last week in a van and with a translator. Then they got to work: creating a giant sand mandala at the Miami Beach Public Library on 22nd Street.
"The mandala is dedicated to compassion and it promotes peace and happiness," said Monk Geshe Lobsang Samdup.
So, it's unique in Miami right now. It's not Super Bowl-related -- although Samdup acknowledged the holy in the football game by saying, "It brings unity among people."
Sand mandalas are ancient art forms in Tibetan Buddhism. The designs are intricate, beautiful, and geometric, representing a map by which the ordinary human mind is translated into the enlightened mind. The monks use specially dyed and blessed sand for the creation, then carefully apply it in a pattern by hand. At 1 p.m. Thursday, they were still putting the final, cautious finishing touches.
Five hours later, at 6 p.m., the monks said a prayer, brushed all of the sand into a pile, then walked over to the beach and dumped it in the ocean.
"It reminds us of the impermanence of life," said Samdup.
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This is the first trip to the U.S.for the monks -- many of them were born in Tibet and exiled to India because of their religion. Their next stop: the Broward Main Library on 100 South Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale.
For more information on seeing the creation, or destruction, of the sand mandala there, go to www. southfloridabuddhist.org.