In many eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, a mandala is an image that a person creates to help him or her meditate. The mandala represents the entire universe. It is the palace in which a god lives, so at the center of each mandala is a symbol or picture of that particular god.
Surrounding the god are the walls of the palace. The palace always has four, decorative gates—one on each wall. Around the palace are more circles. Each represents something different.
As a person creates a mandala, he or she meditates about every part of it.
Mandalas can be made out many different materials but the most impressive are sand mandalas. Tibetan monks place grains of colored sand, one-by-one, on a flat surface. Four monks work together on large sand mandalas. Each monk works on one quadrant of the mandala. All four monks must work at the same speed so that they all finish at the same time.
Go look at the pictures on this website to see monks creating a mandala. I especially like the close-up of the mandala. You really can see every grain of sand.
When the monks have finished creating the sand mandala, it is swept into water. This is meant to release the god from the mandala.
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