Labrang Tashikyil 2015 - 16 USA Tour


Tibetan Language & Alphabet

The monks will present a Tibetan Language & Alphabet workshop to those interested in an Asian language.  Tibetan is not like Chinese.  Instead it belongs to the Burmese family of language.  It's alphabet is based on the Sanskrit alphabet and reads from left to right.

Participants should be high school age or older.   We will give you a hand-out showing the Tibetan alphabet.  The monks will show how to write several letters and will ask for volunteers from the audience to try their hand.  In addition, common phrases like "Good Day" (Tashi Deleg) and "How Are You" (Kyaay Rong Ku Tsug Dey Po Yin Pey) will be taught so that the participants can say them easily.

Buddhist Practices

Buddhist Altar

Tibetans typically will have a Buddhist altar in their homes.  These altars will have represenations of the Three Jewels:  The Buddha (usually represented by a statue or statue); The Dharma (a "pecha" or Dharma sutra); and the Sangya (usally statues of Bodhisattvas and eminent teachers such as Tsong Khapa.)  In addition an altar will have offering bowls (usually 7) to represent the offerings of water, flowers, incense, light, sound, and food.  Frequently, an altar will also have a stupa that represents the enlightened mind of a Buddha.

The monks will demonstrate how to set up an altar correctly.  They will be selling merchandise that can be used to create such an altar.  Such items can also be bought on-line from Dharma Stores. 

A practitioner can find that doing their practice in the presence of their altar can help to inspire them and deepen their aspirations and meditations.

Art Workshops

In Tibet, the creation and celebration of art is integrated with Buddhism.  It is difficult to separate them.  However, the monks will provide hands-on workshops so that participants can enjoy the artforms and learn their significance by creating items themselves.

The workshops can be geared to persons of all ages:  age four to adulthood.  However, since often the little ones enjoy the workshops the most, during the workshop, we will have the monks perform a traditional yak dance to entertain the children

Yak Dance

Butter Sculpture

Instead of sculpting with butter as is done in Tibet, participants will use play doh. They can teach participants how to make flowers, the conch shell, and jewels

Butter sculpture is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist art. Although it is not as well known as another Tibetan ritual art, the sand mandala it is still an important aspect of Tibetan Buddhism in its own right. Butter sculptures symbolize impermanence, (a main tenet of Buddhism,) along with more ritualistic components, and are usually destroyed in anywhere from a day to a few years. They are traditionally made with yak butter, but in exiled Tibetan communities, as the weather is usually warmer, it is made with ghee, fat, and wax. Butter sculptures are displayed on altars and shrines in monasteries or family homes. They are traditionally made every Losar, the Tibetan New Year, and for the Butter Sculpture Festival, part of the Great Prayer Festival, or "Monlam Chenmo" that is held soon after Losar. In it, monks made huge, story high butter sculptures displayed outside the Jokhang in Lhasa, the holiest temple in Tibetan Buddhism

Butter Sculptures at Monlam Festival

Butter sculptures are displayed in many different ways; typically, they are made on a paddle, as free standing sculptures, or a decoration on tsampa cones called tormas.  They are usually made in the form of flowers, "metog," or traditional symbols such as the 8 auspicious signs.

Butter Sculpture Tormas

Tenpa Phuntsok Shows a Little Girl How to Make a Flower

Coloring Tibetan Designs

This workshop is designed with small children in mind.  The monks will provide prepared drawings of Tibetan designs, such as the Eight Auspicious Symbols and yaks.  All that is required is that the children bring their own crayons.

Sand Painting

This is workshop that teaches how to create the following designs using the same techniques as monks use in creating a Sacred Sand Mandala:

Eight Auspicious Symbols (Tashi Dargye)
snow lions
stylized fire patterns

All of the designs will be be pre-drawn so visitors can draw the sand following the lines.

mandala sand     
Monks Making Sacred Sand Mandala and  Teaching a Child to Make a  Sand Painting:  Lotus Symbol

Sand painting is an ancient Tibetan art form. The Sacred Sand Mandala is carefully constructed from dyed sand particles to represent the particular esoteric, textual traditions of Buddhism. It is a transient art form, thought to have originated in India and been transferred in the middle ages to Tibet. The sand mandala is constructed as vehicle to generate compassion, realize the impermanence of reality, and a social/cosmic healing of the environment.

Millions of grains of colored sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of several days, forming an intricate diagram of the enlightened mind and the ideal world. The most common substance used in the creation of dul-tson-kyil-khor is colored sand, which is ground from stone.  Other popular substances are powdered flowers, herbs or grains.  In ancient times, powdered precious and semi-precious gems were also used.  Thus, lapis lazuli would be used for the blues, rubies for the reds, and so forth.  When finished, to symbolize the impermanence of all that exists, the colored sands are swept up and poured into a nearby river or stream where the waters carry the healing energies throughout the world.  For detailed information about the construction process of a mandala, go to the Coordinators’ Materials link and click on the links under “Sacred Sand Mandala.”

Tibetan Prayer Flags

In this workshop, the monks will teach you how to make Tibetan Prayer Flags.  

Prayer flags consist of auspicious mantras and prayers which are wood block printed onto squares of cotton cloth in each of the 5 Buddha colors: red, white, blue, green, and yellow.  Squares of paper, instead of cloth, will be strung together in this workshop.


Usually the windhorse is at the center with the 4 supernatural creatures at each corner: the dragon, the garuda, the snow lion and the tiger. The horse gallops like the wind carrying the wish-fulfilling jewel. It radiates peace, prosperity, knowledge, success, long life, protection and health. The windhorse symbolizes positive personal power which eliminates all hindrances caused by illness, accidents, malign spirits and astrological auspiciousness, bestowing personal power and good luck.

Around the horse are 20-odd mantras—powerful ritual utterances—each dedicated to a particular deity. The idea is that as the wind passes over the surface of the flag, the air becomes purified, sanctified, and sweetened by the mantras. This is beneficial for all beings in the neighborhood.

In addition to the mantras are prayers for long life and good fortune of the person who erects the flags.
Tibetan prayer flags are flown all over the Tibetan cultural world—on high mountain passes, on rooftops, above rapids in mountain streams, bridges, monasteries— everywhere.

Mani Stones


The stones are usually painted with the prayer "Om mani padme hum," a prayer asking for the qualities of wisdom, compassion, and a good heart.   The monks will teach you how to create images on flat stones and decorate them with sacred mantras.