In October 2023, monks from Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, a Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Ithaca, N.Y., will construct a mandala out of different colors of sand on Ithaca College’s campus. This mandala is dedicated to Chenrezig, the bodhisattva (highly advanced spiritual being) of compassion, also known as Avalokiteśvara. Tibetan Buddhists traditionally recognize Chenrezig as the patron of Tibet and view the XIV Dalai Lama as an emanation of Chenrezig in the physical world.
Join Us for a Unique Experience
Mandalas are ritual objects found in Buddhist and other religious traditions. Typically geometric in design, they represent the realm of a celestial being, including his or her palace and divine retinue. In that sense, a mandala is a living deity manifest in a form perceivable by the human senses. Mandalas are also idealized representations of the universe. In ritual contexts, practitioners are initiated into the worship of a particular mandala-deity and will use the mandala to visualize the divine qualities associated with the enlightened being thought to reside therein.
Learn more about several special events that will occur as part of the mandala project.
Mandala Construction • October 4–9 • 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. • Business School Upper Atrium
Stop by the Business School Upper Atrium to watch as the monks construct the mandala.
Every day October 4-8 the monks will pause their work at 3:00 p.m. for chanting, followed by a brief meditation session. All are welcome.
Sharing Special Objects • Tuesday, October 3 • 12–1 p.m. • Klingenstein Lounge, Campus Center
Students, faculty, and staff are invited to bring in objects, symbols, and/or images which they consider sacred, resonant, or of special significance and informally share what these objects mean to them with other members of the IC community. David Salomon (Associate Professor, Department of Art, Art History, and Architecture) will help lead the conversation. Refreshments will be provided. SLI credit available.
Opening Ceremony • Wednesday, October 4 • 10:00 a.m. • Business School Upper Atrium
IC will formally kick off the event with a brief ceremony, led by President Cornish and representatives from Namgyal Monastery.
Film Screening • Wednesday, October 4 • 6:30-8:00 p.m. • Park 279
Kati Lustyik (Associate Professor, Department of Media Arts, Sciences, and Studies) will facilitate a screening of My Reincarnation (2011), a documentary film directed by Jennifer Fox on the relationship between a Tibetan Buddhist master and his son. You can read more about the film here. A brief discussion will follow. SLI Credit available.
Religion Roundtable • Thursday, October 5 • 12:00–1:00 p.m. • Klingenstein Lounge, Campus Center
Public Talk • Thursday, October 5 • 6:00–8:00 p.m. • Klingenstein Lounge, Campus Center
Mandala Open House, pt. 1 • Sunday, October 8 • 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. • The Soil Factory (142 Ithaca Beer Drive)
This event, hosted at The Soil Factory by local artist-educator Kathrin Achenbach, will explore mandala making through fabrics and threads. Participants are invited to create a mandala using weaving and mending techniques. No prior knowledge necessary, everyone is welcome! This event will continue on IC's campus from 2–4 p.m. (see below).
Mandala Open House, pt. 2 • Sunday, October 8 • 2:00–4:00 p.m. • Business School Upper and Lower Atrium
This event for all ages, curated by Ithaca College students Nandini Agarwal, Zoe Kwasnicki, and Prakriti Panwar, allows you to design, sketch, stitch, and color a mandala while learning more about Buddhist traditions and religious symbols.
Dissolution Ceremony • Monday, October 9 • 4:00–6:00 p.m. • Business School Upper Atrium and Muller Chapel
Upon completion, the mandala will remain on display until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, October 9, when a dissolution ceremony involving the gathering up of the sand will occur. The campus community and members of the wider public are invited to join the procession that will carry the sand from the Business School Upper Atrium to the pond next to Muller Chapel. The ritual pouring of the sand into a body of water, in addition to formally dismissing the mandala-deity, powerfully expresses the Buddhist doctrine of impermanence and is believed to spread the karmic merit accumulated by the construction of the mandala to all sentient beings.
A reception in Muller Chapel will directly follow the ceremony. Venerable Tenzin Choesang, President of Namgyal Monastery Institute of Buddhist Studies, will speak about the monastery and the teachings of His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.
Refreshments will be provided and all are welcome to attend.