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A group of monks from Dehradun, India, recently visited campus and made a sand mandala on the fifth floor of Baker Center.

Monks visit campus to teach culture and religion of Tibet

Monks from Labrang Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehradun, India, visited Ohio University from Thursday to Tuesday to educate the public about the culture and religion of Tibet and to fundraise for their monastery.

The monks worked on creating a world peace sand mandala using the religious signs of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Jainism on the fifth floor of Baker Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

During the five-day stay of the monks, sponsored by the Comparative Religions Club, the Friends of India Endowment and Gawande Speaker Series in Indian Religion and Philosophy, other events were also organized. A yoga class was held at The Dairy Barn Arts Center on Saturday, a demonstration of Tibetan visual arts was given Sunday and a skeleton dance performance took place Monday.

It was Lobsan Jamyang’s fourth time in America and second time at OU spreading the ideas and philosophy of the Buddhist religion through the creation of mandalas, which he described as sacred palaces of gods and goddesses. 

“All religions have to make friends with one another and respect one another,” Jamyang, the mandala leader said. “This is why we are making the sand mandala.”

Jamyang and the other monks first came to OU in March 2016 and had to restart making the mandala because it was destroyed on the first day. Despite having their mandala destroyed the last time they were here, Jamyang said he and the other monks decided to come again because most of the people try to help them. 

“Most of the people show their interest to us,” he said. “It helps us.”

Jamyang has been travelling in America since Aug. 1. The monks are further travelling to Cleveland, Washington, D.C. and other cities before going back home.

Jamyang and the other monks came to OU on the invitation of Brian Collins, who is the Drs. Ram and Sushila Gawande Chair in Indian Religion and Philosophy.

Collins, an associate professor of classics and world religions, said he got into connection with the monks after he contacted their agent who handles the tours. 

He was also the professor who had previously invited them in 2016. He said he invited the monks for people who don’t get a chance to visit Buddhist religious places in Athens. 

“It’s like a field trip that you don’t have to leave the campus for,” he said. 

Christin Butler, previously a professor at OU, brought her two children and husband to the opening ceremony that took place Thursday at 2 p.m. 

Butler showed her kids the process of how mandalas are made by the Tibetan monks.

“I love that they spend the time on it, and then they sweep it away,” she said.

She encouraged other people to care and support the dying Tibetan culture.

Butler, who practices Buddhism with her family, wanted to show her support for the religion and her kids to experience the sixth most practiced religion of the world.

“I just found myself drawn to it,” she said. “To my mind, it makes more sense for me as a person, as a practice than my traditional background.”


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