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A week of events celebrating faith and sacredness expressed through art will include the making of a sand mandala with Buddhist monk Lama Karma Chopal March 28 through April 1 in the Interfaith Sanctuary at The College of Saint Rose, 959 Madison Avenue in Albany.

Visitors will be able to witness the mandala being created throughout the day. Lama Chopal will be at work from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 2 to 5 p.m. daily. The mandala can be viewed in the Interfaith Sanctuary from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 28 through March 31 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 1. The mandala and related events being held each evening are open to the public.

A historical Buddhist tradition, a mandala, which means “circle” in Sanskrit, is a cosmic map of the universe meant to guide individuals to enlightenment. Making the mandala involves dozens of hours of carefully placing multicolored sand in an intricate, bright pattern on a horizontal surface. The result is a breathtaking work of art. The mandala is then swept up and poured into a flowing body of water, embodying the central Buddhist theme of impermanence and symbolizing the transitory nature of life expressed in many faiths.

Fewer than 100 artists worldwide are qualified to create true mandalas, according to the Venerable Losang Samten, who made the first public sand mandala in the West. Lama Chopal, who became a monk at age 11, studied Buddhist art with renowned artist Sonam Nyima for a decade, and completed his monastic training in India and Nepal. He created mandalas at Saint Rose in 2018 and 2010.

“After two years in a global pandemic and with war and dissension dominating the news, the mandala presents an opportunity to quiet our hearts, remember that which is sacred, and come together as a community,” says Joan Horgan, director of spiritual life at Saint Rose. “Interfaith dialogue and understanding are important to us at Saint Rose, and in addition to the mandala, we look forward to a week of programming that explores sacred art across various faith and belief systems.”

In addition to the opportunity to see the mandala in progress, the following events will be held at the Interfaith Sanctuary March 28 through April 1:

Monday, March 28 

9 a.m. Opening ceremony for the mandala-making

7 p.m. Illustrated Hebrew Manuscripts: Art as Interpretation of Sacred Texts with Rabbi David Eligberg of Temple Israel in Albany

Tuesday, March 29

7 p.m. Music and Meditation with the Mandala: breathing and resting in sacred space

Wednesday, March 30 

4:30 p.m. Islamic Art: Arabic Calligraphy as Art with Elizabeth Zahdan from the Bright Hope Center

7 p.m. Without Center, Without Fringe: Mandala Principle at the Heart of Art with artist Jeff Wigman, coordinator for the Shambhala Meditation Group of Troy

Thursday, March 31 

5 p.m. Sacred Graffiti: The Holy Ground of Mural-Making in Urban Communities with artist Raè Frasier

Friday, April 1 

Noon The Common Ground in the Sacred: Circles and Spheres in Art and Architecture of Cultural and Religious Expression with Father Gary Gelfenbein from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany

4 p.m. Closing ceremony for the sand mandala