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This week, The ArtsCenter in Carrboro will welcome Tibetan monks into the Nicholson Gallery as they painstakingly construct and subsequently sweep up an elaborate sand mandala over five days.

The monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery have been to Carrboro before, and The ArtsCenter’s role in the event is only to act as a host organization and community sponsor. Viewing of the mandala construction is free and open to the public, though donations are gratefully accepted. All money collected, through donation or purchase of goods at the event, is sent directly back to the monastery and helps to house, care and feed for both the Tibetan refugee community being served in Mundgod and the monks of the Drepung Gomang Monastery themselves.

Construction of the Mandala will begin Tuesday, May 15, with an opening ceremony at 12:30 p.m. – and the event will close on Saturday, May 19, with a closing ceremony as the mandala is swept away and the colorful sand that once composed intricate art is given to all who attend as a blessing and symbol of goodwill.

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Increased screening and tighter travel restriction enforced by the Department of Homeland Security have made this year’s presentation of the Sacred Arts Tour the most difficult to organize in a decade. The tour is organized and sponsored by Drepung Gomang Institute, a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational institute based in Louisville, Kentucky. This year, the mayor of Louisville and the director of the Dharma Center personally traveled to Delhi in order to secure travel visas for the monks constructing mandalas this year.

“The ArtsCenter is honored to welcome the Tibetan Buddhist Monks of Drepung Gomang Monastery back to Carrboro to construct a sand mandala,” said Dan Mayer, executive director at The ArtsCenter, via press release. “This is a community celebration that brings a diversity of visitors to The ArtsCenter to observe and participate in this ancient cultural ritual.  We welcome all to join us and observe the construction of the mandala – a unique and magical process that unfolds over the five days the Monks are in our venue.”