Arts & Culture

Tibetan monks creating sand mandalas at spots around SLO County

Nearly six decades after fleeing their homeland, Tibetan monks are sharing their cultural traditions during a monthlong visit to the Central Coast.

A group of Buddhist monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India began their Sacred Arts Tour on Aug. 7 with a weeklong residency at Santa Barbara’s Alhecama Theatre.

At each stop, the monks will create an intricate mandala, or painting, using millions of grains of brightly colored sand, with opening and closing ceremonies. Also in store are lectures, sales of fair-trade Tibetan goods and cultural pageants featuring song, dance and elaborate costumes.

On Friday, the group planned to wrap up its weeklong stay at King David’s Masonic Lodge in downtown San Luis Obispo by ceremonially destroying the mandala to symbolize the impermanence of all things.

The monks will spend Tuesday through Aug. 26 creating a mandala at EarthTones Gifts, Gallery & Center for Healing in Paso Robles. Their North County residency will include daily meditation walks, a Spice of Life lunch, a Paso Robles Arts Association arts and crafts workshop and an evening tea ceremony at Wilwand Tea Co. & Healing Arts in Atascadero.

Next the group will spend Aug. 28 to 31 at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo and Sept. 4 through 8 at Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria.

For more information, call 805-238-4413 or visit

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