Sand Mandala Ceremony – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Sand Mandala Ceremony

In keeping with Buddhist tradition, and now HWS tradition, the sand mandala that was on display in the atrium of the Warren Hunting Smith Library was destroyed and offered to the waters of Seneca Lake on Dec. 17.

Like many previous finals weeks, the students of the Tibetan Mandala Painting course, whose individual Painted Mandala are hanging in the Warren Hunting Smith Library atrium, were led by the Venerable Tenzin Yignyen in the ceremonial dismantling of the class’s collective work, the Sand Mandala.

The mandala traditionally is used as a meditation tool. Every color, step, and design used to create this intricate celestial creation holds a deeper spiritual meaning.


Tenzin, an instructor of Asian languages and cultures, is also a high-ranking monk in the Dalai Lama’s personal monastery. During the ceremony, he swept up the intricate and colorful sand creation, scooped the grains into a pot and poured his creation into Seneca Lake.  All in attendance were invited to walk across the Hobart Quad and then down the hill to the lake. These rites were performed in recognition of life’s impermanence and the Tibetan belief that man-made creations are insignificant.

Tenzin has been a member of the HWS faculty since 1998. In addition to creating the mandala, he is an instructor in mediation, Tibetan Buddhism and art, as well as Asian studies.