Buddhist monks demonstrate art of sand painting at SIUC

BY NICOLE SACK, The Southern Illinoisan, Feb 14, 2006

CARBONDALE, Illinois (USA) -- A group of Buddhist monks will perform the ancient art of sand painting during this week's International Festival at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

The monks are touring the United States on a goodwill mission and will participate in the annual festival, which runs tonight through Friday at the SIUC Student Center.

"The sand painting is a really wonderful way for them to educate people about the beauty behind their religion," said Carla Coppi, associate director of International Students and Scholars at SIUC, who is helping organize the event.

The monks will start the festival by blessing the area where they will create the intricate piece of art. In the following days, those attending can watch as the monks create the painting - called a "mandala" - a few grains at a time using specialized tools.

Coppi said the monks will be creating the mandala in the International Lounge West and curious onlookers are welcome to view the progress of the art.

"It's very symbolic of creation and deconstruction," Coppi said. "It's quite moving and emotional."

On the final day of the ceremony, when the piece is complete, the monks will ceremoniously blow the sand away, Coppi said. The monks will give the sand away, encouraging the recipients to throw it in a moving body of water, so that it may continue its journey throughout the world, Coppi said.

There will also be a university mandala in the international lounge. After the opening proclamation at 7 p.m., Chancellor Walter Wendler, Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Larry Dietz and Carbondale Mayor Brad Cole will be laying the first grains of sands in the university mandala, which community

members and students are invited to build together.

The International Student Council and Special Programs and Center Events at the Student Center coordinate the event.

The mandala creation is only one aspect of the event, which is famous for colorful selection of cultural items, food, film and music.

The schedule includes:

Today, Feb. 14

- International Bazaar, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hall of Fame.
- German Cuisine, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant.
- International Programs & Services Reception, 6 p.m., J.W. Corker Lounge.
- Proclamation, followed by "Mystical Arts of Tibet," 7 p.m., Ballroom D.

Wednesday, Feb. 15

- Dutch Cuisine, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant.
- Food Fair, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., ballrooms.
- Free film showing: "City of God," 7 p.m., auditorium.
- Ongoing mandala construction.

Thursday, Feb. 16

- Brazilian Cuisine, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Old Main Restaurant.
- Noon Tunes featuring Polka Dogs, noon to 1 p.m., Roman Room.
- Ongoing mandala construction.

Friday, Feb. 17

- International Buffet, 5 to 7 p.m., Renaissance Room. Tickets are on sale at the Central Ticket Office, second floor of the Student Center. Tickets for SIUC students, seniors and children are $9.25 in advance or $10.50 at the door. General public tickets are $10.25 in advance or $11.50 at the door.

- Ongoing mandala construction.
- Closing ceremonies, "Mystical Arts of Tibet," 7 p.m., International Lounge West.
- Cultural Show, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., ballrooms.