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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Ties between Indian, Tibetan cultures focus of 3-day event

August 5, 2010

Organizer Dugan Coburn and the Venerable Ngawang
Chojor, a Tibetan Buddhist monk and renowned sand
mandala creator, will explore the similarities
between Native American and Tibetan culture at
events Thursday-Saturday at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.
By KRISTEN INBODY, Tribune Staff Writer
Great Falls Tribune (Montana)
August 4, 2010

A Tibetan Buddhist monk will create art both
beautiful and transitory at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center this week.

Beginning at 10 a.m. Thursday through Saturday,
the Venerable Ngawang Chojor will craft a sand
mandala, an intricately patterned circle made
with colored sand and imbued with meaning.

"It's a special event. It's not something you see
done around here very often," interpretive
specialist Jeff LaRock said. "It looks rather
interesting the way they put it all together."

Native American and Central Asian cultures share
characteristics explored in a lecture and exhibit.

"The idea is connecting local cultures to the
wider world and finding these similarities in culture," LaRock said.

An exhibition paralleling Native American and
Tibetan characteristics will be open all three
days with a Tibetan bazaar in the resource room.

Chojor will discuss his training and the
tradition and technique of sand mandala
construction at an Indo-Tibetan dinner Thursday
evening. The evening comes with a suggested $20
donation. Space is limited and must be reserved with an RSVP to 781-8852.

Tibetans are cooking the dinner, with a proposed
menu of chicken curry, a Daal or Indian lentil
dish, one vegetable curry dish -- preferably Aloo
Gobi, another vegetable dish, chick pea curry,
cabbage curry with beef, Momos with basmati rice, chappatis and raita.

The First Friday Art Walk the following evening
will showcase the mandala and other Tibetan art,
as well as Native American art.

And Saturday, an afternoon lecture "Cultural
Commonalities between Native Americans and
Tibetans" will be given by Dugan Coburn, Karma
Tensum and Nathaniel Bread, who is part of the
Navajo tribe. Bread will link Navajo sand painting with Tibetan sand mandalas.

"The sand paintings for Navajo are also for a
ceremony and to do with healing," Coburn said.
"It parallels closely what the sand mandalas are for the Buddhists.

"It's pretty cool," he added. "Even the
philosophy, the Navajo talk about different
worlds they've been through and the Buddhists
think about that with reincarnation."

Coburn has met Chojor, who was in the film "Seven
Years in Tibet" with Brad Pitt.

"He doesn't speak a lot of English but he
understands it and has an interpreter," Coburn
said. "He kind of cracks jokes. It's fun to visit with him."

Chojor will pray before starting the mandala and
bless the area, the main lobby of the center.

He plans to have the mandala finished by about 1
p.m. Saturday so people can see the piece before
it is brushed away in a 3 p.m. dissolution ceremony.

Half the sand will be available for visitors to
take home, with the rest poured into the river.

"The idea is to represent the impermanence of
life," LaRock said. "Sand poured into the river
is making the connection with the wider world."

The event is sponsored by the Lewis and Clark
Interpretive Center, the Tibetan Children's
Education Foundation and Missouri River Dance Co.

Schedule of events at Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center

Thursday -- Saturday:

Exhibition of cultural commonalities and Tibetan bazaar open in resource room

10 a.m. -- Opening ceremony

10 a.m.-5 p.m. -- Sand mandala construction

6:30-8:30 p.m. -- Indo-Tibetan dinner, RSVP 781-8852, suggested donation $20.

10 a.m.-5 p.m. -- Sand mandala construction

6-9 p.m. -- First Friday Art Walk

10 a.m.-3 p.m. -- Sand mandala construction

1 p.m. -- Lecture exploring cultural
commonalities between Native Americans and Tibetans

3 p.m. -- Dissolution ceremony
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