If you were walking on UT campus during the early afternoon of January 13, you might have laid witness to a rare and exciting sight: the procession of the monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery of Atlanta to Waller Creek.
Having just dismantled a sand mandala they had been creating since the 9th, the monks walked from the Blanton Museum down to Waller Creek near the UT Alumni Center. Once at the creek, the monks held a ceremony and sang traditional Tibetan chants before pouring sand from the mandala into Waller Creek.
We had the unique opportunity to witness the whole procession and closing ceremony. Most remarkable was the enormous crowd that gathered to participate. Hundreds made their way from the museum to the creek and as they went, more and more joined. We were thrilled to hear people say, “they’re going to Waller Creek!” throughout the procession as onlookers asked what was happening and where they should go to see more.
Students coming back from Sunday sports practices or cramming sessions at the library stopped to watch and listen. People put down their phones to consider that these monks, having just completed an intricate and exquisite piece of art made of millions of grains of sand, dismantled the mandala and, in an instant, the sand was flowing in Waller Creek.
The day was a reminder that the creek has the potential to be a sight for authentic and uplifting experiences. People from all over the city came together to view something impermanent and special: a preview of an emerging future for Waller Creek.
(The sand mandala project was part of the Blanton’s exhibit: Into the Sacred City: Tibetan Buddhist Deities from the Theos Bernard Collection. To learn more, please visit the Blanton’s website and blog.)