Tibetan Monk Creates Sand Art For Holiday Season

NBC13.com News, December 14, 2004

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.(USA) -- For the second year in a row, the venerable Llama Tenzin Deshek has made a mandala, sand art symbol of compassion for the holiday season. The mandala represents the various colors of the world all coming together harmoniously.

"It's very important to share your own culture with your neighbors," said Deshek.

This sharing of culture is one of Deshek's main goals as he spends countless hours bending over a small table dropping granules of sand in specific locations, creating the mandala.

?It's a very high art, high craft ? the colors jump out to me. I've never seen color of this sort ever," said Ladonna Smith, a local artist.

Deshek, believed to be the only Tibetan monk in Alabama, is head of the Losel Maitri Buddhist center in Cahaba Heights.

The work of art is in celebration of the 10 days of Tibet. Deshek works tirelessly from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. in the Magnolia Financial Center. The painting is planned to be finished on Saturday, where it will be dismantled during a special ceremony on Sunday.

"The idea that you can take so many hours and so many days to focus yourself so completely to make such a beautiful piece of art and then to destroy it in the end, I would look at the finished product and not be able to destroy it," said Jessica Roskinn, of the NCCI, a local interfaith organization.

"When people watch this mandala, they say, ?So beautiful,? then I feel I'm doing something good for them, good for Alabamians," said Deshek.