This September the Penticton Art Gallery is honoured to host the Mystical Arts of Tibet a world tour endorsed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama featuring the monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery to promote world peace and healing by sharing Tibet’s rich and authentic sacred performing and visual arts. The tour offers a rare opportunity to witness one of the world’s most ancient sacred traditions.
The artists and performers are monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery, which has been re-established in exile in South India who are taking time off from their life-long devotion to contemplation and study to participate in the tour. These monk artists consider it an honor to be selected to represent their monastery and share their cultural traditions on the tour, hoping that in doing so they will be able to make some small contribution towards world peace and to bringing greater awareness of the Tibetan situation. At the end of each tour the monks return to Drepung Loseling Monastery to continue their vocation.
Over the course of their stay in Penticton the Monks will present a full program of cultural events with the main focus being the construction of a sand mandala in the Penticton Art Gallery’s Main Gallery. The opening ceremony will take place on Wednesday September 13th and will continue through Sunday September 17th.
From all the artistic traditions of Tantric Buddhism, that of painting with colored sand ranks as one of the most unique and exquisite. In Tibetan this art is called dul-tson-kyil-khor, which literally means "mandala of colored powders." Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks. Formed of a traditional prescribed iconography that includes geometric shapes and a multitude of ancient spiritual symbols, the sand-painted mandala is used as a tool for re-consecrating the earth and its inhabitants.
On Sunday September 17th in keeping with tradition the sand mandala will be deconstructed shortly after its completion. This is done as a metaphor of the impermanence of life. The sands are swept up and placed in an urn; to fulfill the function of healing, half is distributed to the audience at the closing ceremony, while the remainder will be carried to the Ikeda Japanese Gardens, where they will be deposited. The waters then carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.
We will also be presenting the Mystical Arts of Tibet: Sacred Music Sacred Dance performance at the Cleland Theater. This is a cultural showcase comprising of selections believed to generate energies conducive to world healing. Robed in magnificent regalia and playing traditional Tibetan instruments, the Loseling monks perform ancient temple music and dance for world healing. The Drepung Loseling monks are particularly renowned for their multiphonic chanting known as zokkay (complete chord). Each of the main chantmasters simultaneously intones three notes, thus each individually creating a complete chord. The Tibetans are the only culture on earth that cultivates this most extraordinary vocal ability.
The Mystical Arts of Tibet tour is designed as a development of this tradition. The presentation has been streamlined in such a way as to maintain the essential integrity and purpose of each of the individual pieces in the celebration. In Tibet, whenever a monastery celebrated a spiritual festival, people from the surrounding villages and nomadic tribes would assemble in the monastery’s courtyard for the three or four days of sacred music and dance.
In addition to the above programs organized by the Penticton Art Gallery, Get Bent Yoga, Dance and Wellness Center in partnership with the Get Bent Active Arts Society will be organizing a series of daily lectures and prayer ceremonies (pujas) led by Geshe Thupten Loden. We are just in the final stages of securing their visas and once this is completed we will be able to confirm the entire schedule of programs including the cultural showcase and the daily lectures and prayer ceremonies.
The last visit ten years ago left an incredible mark on the community and if you would like to help out by being a billet for some of the Monks, help providing a meal or helping in any other capacity please contact the gallery. Tickets forthe cultural showcase will go on sale in early August.
For a sneak peak of what is to come, check out https://www.mysticalartsoftibet.org/