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Experience another culture

The Tibetan Monk tour has returned to Central New York.

Having found asylum in India, the Monks of Gaden Shartse are exiled from their home in Tibet and tour the world in an effort to raise awareness of their plight.

"The initial tour in 2005 had such a great response," said Dr. Joan Coff, local coordinator for the tour, adding this is the group's third visit to the area.

"After the first visit, the monks told me that CNY was one of the most open, kind places that they had had the honor of visiting. They found the people were so warm and friendly, and they would enjoy returning."

In addition to their plight, the monks travel around the world to spread awareness of the culture of Tibet, and share the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.

"People are interested in the culture of Tibet and enjoy meeting and spending time with the monks," Coff said.

The tour also raises funds for the Tibetan refugee resettlement area in India. Since 2005, the monks have raised enough money to build a hospital, stock a library with books, buy land to grow food, increase sanitation in their community and a variety of other projects.

While in Central New York, the monks have scheduled numerous events including the creation of a sand mandala. According to Coff, the sand mandala is a beautiful work of art and a view into the ancient culture and traditions of Tibet.

"It's an amazing experience, the sight of the mandala, the rhythmic sound of the tools they use to place the sand, and the calm feeling the monks somehow convey to everyone they come in contact with," she said.

Using metal tubes filled with colored, ground gemstones, the Tibetan monks will create the detailed, two-dimensional, sand painting at the Zen Center of Syracuse from Oct. 7 to 10. The public is invited to observe the mandala in process as the monks continue the ancient ritual. The Zen Center will open at 9:30 a.m. each morning.

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