Monks to visit Columbia, raise awareness

Wednesday, April 14, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:40 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ten Tibetan monks will soon be in Columbia for the third time to share their art, life and faith and to gain support in their quest for freedom from what they call Chinese occupation.

Starting Saturday, the monks from Karnataka, India, will hold events and informational talks that convey their Buddhist faith and culture. Included are lectures at Hickman High School and MU, a cultural pageant and creation of an intricate sand mandala, a symbolic Buddhist artwork made with colored sand that symbolizes the universe.

The visit is part of the monastery’s North American tour, which is focused on spreading knowledge of Tibetan culture, raising awareness of Tibet’s conflict with China and raising enough money to start a “Food Foundation” — a fund to feed students at the monastery.

The tour will concentrate on Tibetan art, which, according to the Drepung Gomang Web site, “is the foundation for which individual expression and faith is conveyed.”

Supported on tour by “Friends of Drepung Gomang,” an organization working to rebuild and fund the monastery, the monks will also hold an ethnic dinner to raise additional funds.

With 1,500 monks studying at the monastery and 150 arriving annually from Tibet, the money will go toward housing, feeding and educating the students on their culture and heritage.

This is the first year for the monks to hold a fund-raising dinner.

Trischa Splitter, coordinator of Students for a Free Tibet, said that last year, the monks generated more than $10,000 through items they sold and donations, including money raised annually by Students for a Free Tibet.

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