CROOKSTON, Minn. – The University of Minnesota Crookston will welcome Wongdue Sangbo Gurung, a Buddhist monk from Nepal, to campus April 11-20 as he will take part in the ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition of the creation and destruction of a sand mandala. The community and students on the UMN Crookston campus will be able to watch him create the sand mandala in person or online at The creation of the sand mandala will commence Monday, April 11 in the west side of the International Lounge within the Sargeant Student Center. Special tours will be offered Friday, April 15 and Saturday, April 16 from 10 am.-2 p.m. Parking will be available in Lot “A”.

Photo of Wongdue Sangbo Gurung

The closing ceremony for the sand mandala will be at 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 20 in the International Lounge. Wongdue Sangbo Gurung will destroy the mandala and release it into the Red Lake River. After returning from the river, there will be light refreshments and an opportunity to visit with the artist.

The sand mandala, involves the creation of an elaborate geometric design using colored sand and working from the design’s center to the outer edges. The sand is applied until the desired pattern is achieved in intricate detail. When completed, the mandala is much more than a work of art and reflects the deeply help Buddhist belief in the fleeting nature of the material world. The destruction of the sand mandala is also ceremonial and materials used in its creation are released back into nature and never used more than once. Sand mandalas are part of the ancient Tibetan Buddhism tradition. They are always set up to look like a palace with four gates pointed in four directions. In the center of the mandala, is the greater being, making it a three dimensional picture. The message of the sand mandala is that all living beings want to be happy and for that they need inner peace.

The artist, Buddhist monk Wongdue Sangbo Gurung, is the uncle of current UMN Crookston student Tseten Gurung, a sophomore majoring in IT management. Wongdue Sangbo Gurung was the former principal of the monastic school in Lo-manthang, the capital of the small Tibet-buddhist kingdom of Mustang, which now belongs to Nepal. The school was built in 1994 to try to keep their identity and their Tibetan culture alive. There are some 70 young monks above the age of eight attending the school. Gurung had been a pupil, taught, and has practiced this art form. He has traveled to Germany, Switzerland, and Thailand to demonstrate sand mandala paintings.

Photo of Sand Mandala

In addition to the creation of the sand mandala, UMN Crookston will be holding a meditation night “Mandalas, Mindfulness, and Meditation: Learning to Calm our Anxious Minds”, on April 13 hosted by Trey Everett. The workshop will help in the understanding and discipline used to create such a piece. The event will also offer the opportunity to work on the four to six mandala pieces created by Everett. Food will be offered following the session for those who participate. You can sign up at

Story Contact: Shawn Smith - - (218) 281-8414