They wear red and gold robes, create sacred art and have been traveling to Omaha for more than two decades to share the culture of Tibet.
Monks from the Gaden Shartse Monastery in Mundgod, India, arrived in Omaha this week for a series of presentations at the OM Center in Omaha’s Old Market.
Sandy Aquila of the OM Center said the event, which started Wednesday and runs through next Wednesday, raises money for the monastery. The monks give similar presentations across the country.
The monks fled from Tibet more than 40 years ago because of oppression by the Chinese government and established a monastery in India, she said.
Aquila and Roxanne Wach of Compassion Omaha have been bringing the monks to Omaha since the early 1990s and say the Tibetan Buddhism they practice is a foundation for their sacred art.
Through their art, chanting and prayer, the monks want to show that people around the world have much in common, Aquila said.
“We all have the same desires, fears and wishes,’’ she said. “Everyone wants to be happy.”
She said the performances also help the monks preserve their culture.
Wach said Tibetan culture and Buddhism are a powerful mix of mythology, symbolism, artistry, ancient tradition and prayer. The monks want people who attend the sessions to be filled with peace.
“They are really praying for peace and wellness on our planet,’’ she said.
The creation of a sacred sand painting called a mandala is among the most popular draws during the event. The painting is created using a metal cone filled with colored sand. The cone’s tip is removed and the monks tap the cone, letting sand pour through to create intricate designs.
Viewing the detailed mandala is intended to open the mind and awaken the spirit.
“It’s very soothing to watch them do it,’’ Wach said. “You can’t believe they are drawing with sand.”
After the painting is completed and consecrated, the monks destroy it to show that nothing in life is permanent.