When someone asks me if I want to go see monks, I will always say, “YES!” because every other day? I don’t hang out with monks. In robes. Especially when those monks make crafts. YES!
Lelainia and I got to Dr Sun Yat-Sen Garden at 9:50 this morning. We hung out under a nearby awning while it poured rain until the gardens opened at 10 am. We got there so early, we even beat the monks. Who could blame them? It was a rainy, Sunday morning.
The monks of Dzongkar Choede came to Vancouver for a fundraiser for their monastery in India. They have been here since Friday working hard on their colourful sand mandala.
I had no idea what a sand mandala was until today. The monks create paintings using coloured sand and long tubes they use to painstakingly place the coloured sand “in between the lines” – kind of like colouring a paint-by-number, but with fine grains of sand.
Once the sand is in the tube, they use another tube to create a vibration by rubbing it on the first tube full of sand. There are ridges on that cylinder and I guess the movement from the rubbing makes the sand come out in fine, straight lines. It takes a very long time to fill a small space this way. It’s very precise. And they also build different layers and textures piling up grain after grain of sand.
The monks had excellent focus and concentration, even when the most obnoxious photographer in the world took photos with his flash right in their faces. They didn’t react at all. They just. kept. placing. sand. delicately. in. the. right. places.
I knelt beside them while they worked, and sometimes they would stop and ask us a few questions. They were friendly and cheerful. I could have stayed there all day, just listening to the hum of the sticks and watching the colourful sand fall into place.
Just as we were leaving, we thanked the monks and I told one monk I took lots of photos. He said to me, “No photos! Not allowed!” Then he said, “Just kidding!” Heh. A joking monk? So. Awesome. Anyway, I knew he was kidding because another monk told me their monastery was on facebook.
Facebook, joking, crafty monks are awesome. I would love to go back and see them one more time before the exhibition is over on Tuesday. I hope I can finagle something!