Monks created a similar sand mandala in 2017. | Courtesy of Drepung Gomang Center

Eight monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India are visiting Louisville this week to construct an Interfaith World Peace Sand Mandala one grain of sand at a time.

And if you’re interested, you’re welcome to stop by and watch the process, which begins Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Muhammad Ali Center and culminates on Sunday, Sept. 2, to coincide with the annual WorldFest taking place nearby at the Belvedere.

Sponsored by Louisville’s Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion, the sand mandala represents a visual prayer for nonviolence, according to the news release. The monks’ mission is to help grow compassion, interfaith understanding and, of course, peace.

The mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist art form that also demonstrates the impermanence of reality, because although it’ll take days to construct, the dissolution ceremony will only take an hour to tear down. However, by dissembling the structure and releasing the sand into the wind (as well as the Ohio River), it’s supposed to bring about a healing to the community.

Although it takes days to build a sand mandala, it only takes an hour to deconstruct. | Courtesy of Drepung Gomang Center

“Because Muhammad Ali was a man of peace and a beloved global citizen, the Ali Center — a place whose mission incorporates respect, hope and understanding — could not be more pleased to welcome the Tibetan Buddhist Monks and the public to our facility,” said Jeanie Kahnke, senior director of public relations and external affairs at the Ali Center, in the release. “Having this occur during WorldFest is both timely and symbolic as a way to celebrate our international citizens and their cultures.”

The monks will work on the mandala for five days, beginning Tuesday, and each day will start and conclude with chanted prayers. The structure will include symbols from several religions circled around a dove and a globe.

You can watch the monks in action every day — Tuesday through Saturday — from 9:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The dissolution ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1. The Ali Center is located at 144 N. Sixth St.

The 16th annual WorldFest will take place Aug. 31-Sept. 3 at the Belvedere. Admission is free, and it runs Friday through Sunday, 11. m. to 11 p.m., and Monday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."