Tibetan Culture

LILY DALE – The Tibetan monks of the Drepung Loseling Monastery will be in Lily Dale from July 7-12. The monks have been touring the United States to share the culture of Tibet and spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism.

Their religious ceremonies are alive with color and sound. Their distinctive multiphonic singing, where one singer produces three tones simultaneously, has been featured in the film “Seven Years In Tibet.” The monks have appeared at Carnegie Hall, and have shared the stage with a wide range of performers including Phillip Glass, Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, Natalie Merchant and the Beastie Boys. Although it may seem at first to be an odd pairing of the secular and the sacred, the mission of the Drepung Loseling monks is to share Tibetan culture with the world. Programs in public venues through the Mystical Arts of Tibet World Tours help raise awareness and further efforts to preserve the endangered culture of Tibet.

Following the Communist invasion of Tibet in 1959, 6,500 monasteries were closed and destroyed, including the original Drepung Monastery. Two hundred and fifty monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery near Lhasa, Tibet, escaped to southern India where they established their new home. They established a seat in North America in 1991 as a result of their Mystical Arts of Tibet tours, which in turn led to an academic affiliation with Emory University in Atlanta in 1998. The monks visiting Lily Dale live in India where they are free to practice their religion. They recognize the exiled Dalai Lama as their spiritual leader.

From July 7-12, the monks will focus their efforts on the creation of a mandala, which is a sacred painting made by dropping individual grains of colored sand from metal cones to form a complex image. This year, the monks will be creating the Green Tara Mandala. This mandala is intended to bring compassion, readiness for positive action and relief from fear, anxiety and suffering to the world. After the mandala is completed, it is deconstructed to symbolize the impermanence of life. Those present at the closing ceremony will receive a packet of sand from the deconstructed mandala, which carries the energy and intention of the Green Tara.

The full schedule of events and admission fees follows:

Entrance to the grounds:$10 per person for 24 hours; $5 per person from 6 p.m. to midnight

Sunday, July 7 (2 p.m.) Opening Ceremony, $45

July 7-12 (all day) Making of the Mandala, free

Wednesday, July 10 (2 p.m.) Healing, Meditation and Prayer Ceremony, $45

Friday, July 12 (5 p.m.) Closing Ceremony, $45

Tickets may be obtained through the Lily Dale website at www.lilydaleassembly.com or by calling 595-8721.