Harmony and Peace Festival

Tibetan Sand MandalaStarting today, there will be a harmony and peace festival happening in the Jardín Botánico of Caguas. The festival, which celebrates the year of the planet. will take place through Sunday. It will open daily from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and tickets will be $12.00 for adults and $6.00 for children ages 6 to 12 years old.

However, according to Danny Rivera, who is not only performing during the festival, but is also the producer and spokesperson for the event, commented: We're aware of the tight economic situation facing the country, people who can not afford the $12 daily admission, can gain access to the facilities of the botanical garden with a donation. Which I think is a pretty cool policy to have for a peach and harmony festival.

In many ways this event is just like the many others you've been to on the island. There will be a special invited guest, for this event it is the The Monks of Tibet. In addition, Danny Rivera, The Flutist Enrique Cárdenas, The Harpist Elisa Torres, and Edwin Gerena will be performing through out the festival. There will also be lectures for adults and children, kiosks with natural products and health food, aroma therapy, organic drinks, and arts and crafts. Well, Ok, it's already a little different than most events here, but you know the typical offerings.

For me, what makes this event interesting is that the festival hopes to become a wave of tolerance and understanding and sow universal brotherhood, from Puerto Rico to the world. Amen brother! Rivera commented further, in a very Buddhist way of thinking, "It is not utopian to think that Puerto Ricans can live in harmony and brotherhood." For me, it's the hope of that harmony and brotherhood that should make us all strive for it, starting first, of course, with the man in the mirror (as Michael Jackson once said). So today, let's all start by committing random acts of peace, harmony, and brotherhood!

To achieve the festival's mission, the Buddhists monks will be leading meditations and providing lectures on violence and suicide, but they will also be doing one other thing which is literally amazing. They will be constructing a sand peace mandala. Taking all three days of the event to complete, the monks will build a mandala out of sand and on the final day, in a dissolution ceremony, destroy the mandala. The creation and destruction of the mandala is a reminder of the profound Buddhist concept of impermanence.

Did you know?

For Tibetans, this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.

According to Buddhist history, the purpose, meanings, and techniques involved in the spiritual art of sand mandala painting were taught by Sakyamuni Buddha in the 6th-century B.C. in India. This tradition has been preserved over the past 2500 years in an unbroken transmission from master to disciple.

The Tibetan word for mandala is kilkhor, which means “center of the circle with exterior walls and surrounding environment.” Millions of grains of brightly colored sand, placed with great skill and patience using a metal funnel called a chak phur, form the intricate and beautiful geometric designs of the sand mandala sacred art form.

Tibetans believe that all who participate and watch the mandala process accumulate merit. The sand is traditionally made from ground precious stones. Since each grain of sand is charged with the blessings of the ritual process, the entire sand mandala embodies a vast store of spiritual energy.

To give you a little idea of how exquisite this art form is, I've included a couple of nice videos showing first the creation of a mandala and then the ceremony to destroy the mandala. It is truly fascinating and almost worth the price of admission just to witness this unique art form.

Monks Create Mandala

Dissolution Ceremony

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