Tibetan monks at Roanoke College this week

Monks giving lectures, creating sand mandala

SALEM, Va. – After some religious chanting, five Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery began a full day of work on their sand sculpture, known as a mandala, in the lobby of the Colket Center at Roanoke College.

"We have chosen the mandala of compassion this time to bring a more compassionate and harmonious environment over here," said Palden Namgyal.

The multicolored sculpture is flat and is being made on a large table.

"Our main purpose for visiting different universities and colleges is to communicate with more students and people and to share our culture," Namgyal said.

Roanoke College Assistant Professor of Religion Dr. Melanie Trexler spent the last two years working to get the monks to campus.

The sand sculpture and lectures are part of the monks' Mystical Arts of Tibet program.

"The Mystical Arts of Tibet is particularly special because it's an act of healing and compassion for the world. At this time, we think that's really important, and the monks from Drepung Loseling can bring a new way for us to think about that as a campus," Trexler said.

The monks worked on the sculpture from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and will do the same Thursday.

They'll destroy the sculpture during a closing ceremony on Friday.