Over the course of next week, Tibetan monks will be building a large, colourful sand sculpture inside Art Central… and then sweeping it up and dumping it into the river.
You read that right. Called a sand mandala, these Tibetan Buddhist sculptures are tools for guiding individuals along a path of enlightenment. The laborious and focused process required to create these intricate sculptures enable their constructors to gain wisdom and compassion. Their subsequent destruction represents the Buddhist belief in the transitory nature of material life.
For next week’s mandala at Art Central, its destruction and dispersion into the river at the end of the week is also intended to be “like a gift for the city,” said Amanda Koyama. Koyama is with the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society, which has partnered with the International Buddhist Foundation to bring the group of five monks to Calgary for this project.
Those of you in downtown Calgary can check out the sand mandala over your lunch hour, as it will be built from Monday to Friday between 11 am and 2 pm. Since the sculpture will progress a bit every day, it will look different depending on which day you visit.
It’s also expected to be interactive. “I think they’re even going to set up a mini table, for people like you and me to try it out,” said Koyama, referring to the process by which small tubes, scrapers, and funnels are used to make sand designs.
Next week’s sand mandala is supported by a Calgary 2012 Grassroots Inspired Grant (a GIGYYC). Calgary 2012 is providing 27 $12,000 grants each month to Calgary cultural projects over the course of the year.