Wednesday 7 May 2008
Of cricket and mandalas
We first met the Tibetan monks from the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery during the 2006 Aldeburgh Festival. A cricket challenge between the admin staff of Britten Sinfonia and the Festival had been set up, the day before the monks were to give a concert there. I don’t recall how we found out, but it transpired they were also cricket mad, so we invited them to take part: we had a great match.
They have come back to the East of England this week for the Heart of the World Festival in Cambridge, so the idea of a return match was irresistible. I won’t give details of the score yesterday (we were hammered), but it was good to meet up with our friends again. The Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in South India was re-establshed in 1972 and is now home to some 300 monks in exile. The touring group not only gives concerts (you can hear them tonight at the Cambridge Corn Exchange) but also creates sand mandalas, the intricate construction of the image of a Buddha’s palace, incorporating within it the entire cosmos, with millions of grains of coloured sand. Since Sunday they have been creating a mandala in King’s College Chapel, a setting juxtaposing both two of the world’s great religions, and exquisite art and architecture.
The finished mandala in King's
The destruction ceremony
The sand is carried from the Chapel to the Cam: the blessed grains of sand are poured into running water to spread their benefit as far as possible.