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Tibetan Monks Bring Sacred Arts to Oxford this Weekend

Six Tibetan Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in southern India will be visiting Oxford this weekend and holding workshops and exhibits to teach the community about the Tibetan culture, traditions, and religion.

IMG_0080This group has traveled all over the country trying to foster an interfaith dialogue and teach others about their religion and their message of compassion, non-violence, and loving kindness. Geshe Thinley said, “ We want to stay in the world [with loving kindness]. We want people to live each other. That is what is important to us.”

Geshe Tsewang Thinley is the leader of this group of monks. He joined the Drepung Gomang Monastery at the age of 11 and he is qualified to conduct all of the religious ceremonies, prayer chants, and Buddhist rituals. He also is qualified to provide religious teachings and will participate in any interfaith discussion.

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford is hosting the monks this weekend. Mari Kuhnle, adjunct instructor at the University of Mississippi and member of the Sunday Service Committee at the UUCO said, “The leader of the Sunday Services Committee received an email about the monks being in the area and we were just so excited to host them.”

112814_TibetanBazaar_600During this Sacred Arts Tour, the monks will display Tibetan crafts, create a sand mandala, and present pageant performances that include dance, song, and chanting.

There are many events happening over the weekend. Here is a rundown on all the events that you don’t want to miss.

Thursday and Friday, the Power House will be open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for viewing of the educational exhibits. From 9:30-4:30, there will be workshops and presentations for adults and children; including butter sculptures, Tibetan design, and sand painting.

Monks at the Drepung Gomang Monastery

It is during this time that the Monks will be creating the sand mandala. The sand mandala is carefully constructed by hand from dyed sand particles to represent the particular traditions of Buddhism. The sand mandala is constructed as a way to generate compassion, realize the impermanence of reality, and a healing of the environment.

Thinley spoke about impermanence and said, “Sometimes people don’t like [to talk about] impermanence. It’s hard for people, to talk about passing away. It’s natural to pass away, but it’s hard for people to talk about it.”

IMG_0078The monks will also display merchandise that is for sale and all of the proceeds will go back to the Drepung Gomang Monastery. For workshops times and to register, please visit oxfordarts.com. The Power House will be open all day for people to come and look as they please. And while the workshops are free, a charitable donation is suggested.

Thursday night, the monks will put on a cultural pageant at the Oxford-Lafayette Public Library. The event starts at 6:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Here the monks will dress in traditional Tibetan costumes and perform prayer rituals. There will also be dancing and music from traditional Tibetan instruments.

IMG_0085Friday night, the monks will cook a traditional Tibetan meal at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The dinner will start at 7:00 p.m. To reserve your space at dinner, please email uucostaffer@gmail.com. A suggested donation of $20.00 per person will go directly to the Drepung Gomang Institute.

Two events are taking place on Saturday. At 10 a.m. the monks and the University of Mississippi’s “Just One Breath” Meditation Group will meet at the James Meredith statue for a time of meditation. They are also hoping to do a meditation walk around Labyrinth by the Ole Miss Student Union.

The second event on Saturday is a time of chanting and meditation at the Center for Healing and Wellness. The event will start at 1 p.m. and a $10 donation is suggested.

The final event that the monks will participate in is a Sunday service at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Oxford. The service starts at 11:00 and the congregation will be holding a potluck lunch following the service.

For more information on these events and to register, please visit oxfordarts.com. Merchandise from the Drepung Gomang Sacred Arts Tour will be available for purchase at all events and 100 percent of all proceeds go directly to support, educate, house, feed, and clothe the nearly 2,000 refugee monks at Drepung Gomang Institute in Southern India.

For more information on the monks and the Drepung Gomang Monastery you can visit their website.

Waverly McCarthy is a HottyToddy.com staff reporter and can be reached at wcmccart@go.olemiss.edu.

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