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Tibetan Buddhist monks from Tashi Kyil Monastery in Dehra Dun, India, arrived in Salida on winter solstice and began creating a Chinrezig sand mandala Saturday, Dec. 22, at A Church, 419 D St.

Chenrezig is the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism and is considered the patron bodhisattva of Tibet.  He can be portrayed in several different forms. In the mandala currently being created, the monks depict him as having four arms. The extra arms symbolize his ability to help many beings simultaneously

“Mandala” is a Sanskrit term meaning “container of essence,” according to Zara Fleming, art consultant and historian. “It is that sacred circle embodying some sacred essence.” 

Since Chenrezig embodies compassion, the mandala being created at A Church is considered to contain the sacred essence of compassion.

According to the event schedule, the monks – Yeshi Tsultrim, Yeshi Rabgyal, Kalsang Gyatso, Kalsang Jinpa, Lobsang Jamyang and Tenzin Gyatso – will be at the church for various activities each day through Thursday, Dec. 27, including language classes, meditation instruction, talks and a potluck dinner.

Everyone is invited to stop by from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day to watch the mandala take shape, make donations to the monastery or shop for unique handmade items. The completed sand mandala will be dispersed into the Arkansas River at approximately 2 p.m. Thursday, carrying the blessing of the mandala wherever the river flows.

While the Tashi Kyil monks are Tibetan, they arrived in India in 1967 as exiles from their homeland after the Chinese destroyed their original monastery. They rebuilt their monastery in India, but since Tashi Kyil is a refugee monastery, it relies entirely on donations to provide for the education and care of the Tibetan children who live and study there.

To learn more about the Tashi Kyil Monastery and its sister Kumbum Chamtse Ling Monastery in Indiana, contact the monks at 812-322-9617 or

Yeshi Rabgyal watches as Lobsang Jamyang adds sand to the Chenrezig mandala Monday at A Church in Salida. Once the sand mandala is complete, the Tibetan Buddhist monks will disperse it and dissolve the sand in the Arkansas River as a blessing (photo by Joe Stone).


Dec. 25
10 a.m.: Chinrezig practice
11 a.m.: Tibetan language class
3 p.m.: Tibetan art projects and panda dance (children and adults are welcome)

Dec. 26
10 a.m.: Chinrezig practice
11 a.m.: Tibetan language class
6:30 p.m.: A Course on Happiness, potluck dinner, slideshow on Tibet

Dec. 27
10 a.m.: Chinrezig practice (recording and hopefully slide show)
11 a.m.: Tibetan language class
2 p.m.: Mandala dissolution and to river to distribute sand