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Steamboat Magazine

Rites of Healing

08/05/2022 12:16PM ● By Dan Greeson

Photography by George Fargo

Steamboat Springs, CO - Letting go: a concept rarely captured in a work of art. 

And yet, this enigmatic idea is fully embodied in the Mandala on the Yampa event, which at  long last returns to Bud Werner Memorial Library this summer. 

During a residency at the library, Tibetan Buddhist Drepung Loseling Monks create a mandala sand painting meant to heal the surrounding area. The monks have performed this ancient ritual in Steamboat Springs twice previously, but it has been seven years since the last iteration. 

This year, the monks create an Akshobhya Mandala, meant to manifest harmony and healing. The ceremony begins with a blessing, followed by creation of a chalk outline, after which the monks meticulously fill in their tracings with colorful grains of sand using a traditional chakpur funnel. At the ceremony’s end, the monks sweep up the mandala and cast it into the Yampa River. This is an act meant to signify both life’s impermanence and a blessing for the rest of the world.

These photographs detail the sacred process that the Drepung Loseling Monks use to create – and destroy – their mandalas.

Photography by George Fargo