Evansville’s horizons expand this month as a group of Tibetan monks visits from Dehradun in northern India. Since 2011, the monks come to the U.S. for six months each year on the Tashi Kyil Tour to share their wisdom and practices, and raise awareness and funds for their monastery’s young refugee monks.
The Hoosier State has a special place in the monks’ hearts because their U.S. base is at the Tibetan Mongolian Buddhist Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana. From there, they travel to destinations throughout the country, with six monks planning a visit from Aug. 25-31 to Evansville.
The weeklong stay consists of several programs, activities, and events, such as a cooking class and fundraising dinner, a children’s art program, and meditation. Many of the monks’ activities will take place at St. Lucas United Church of Christ, 33 W. Virginia St. One ongoing project is the creation of a World Peace Sand Mandala. Meaning “world in harmony” in Sanskrit, the sand mandala is a sacred art form in Tibetan Buddhism and consists of painted symbols representing high powers and a visionary palace for mediation. Work on the mandala begins at noon on Aug. 25, and the completed work will be ceremonially dispersed into the Ohio River at 3 p.m. on Aug. 30.
There are other ways to interact with the Tibetan monks and learn about their culture. The public can attend a Dharma teaching at 6 p.m. on Aug. 26 at Evansville’s Yin Yang Yoga 4 You at 1229 W. Maryland St., or join a meditation session and Q&A on Aug. 27 at Mindful Heart Buddha Sanga, 600 N. Weinbach Ave., Ste. 220. The University of Evansville at 1800 Lincoln Ave. will host a Tashi Sholpa dance at 10 a.m. on Aug. 28. More events can be found on the tour’s Facebook page.
“When the monks from Tashi Kyil Monastery come to Evansville, everything changes. They bring the energy of their Tibetan culture and teachings, and people love to connect with them,” says Cecile Martin, owner of BodyWorks Massage Therapy and an organizer for the monks’ visit to Evansville. “I feel that is what I enjoy most about creating programs for them in the Evansville area — watching the respectful interactions of people from different cultures and different religions. It is a joy to behold.”
Along the monks’ journey, they receive donations to provide them with food, housing, medical needs, education, and more for the refugee monks.