Drepung Gomang Monks of India plan 9-day visit to Laguna Beach

Drepung Gomang Monks of India plan 9-day visit to Laguna Beach

8 holy men will share Tibetan culture, mandala making, music, and history

LAGUNA BEACH, Calif., Jan. 24, 2019 – After a three-year hiatus, the Drepung Gomang monks of India will return to Laguna Beach for the seventh time as part of their Sacred Tibetan Arts Tour. Eight monks will visit Laguna Beach on the cultural arts tour from January 28–Feb. 5, based at Healy House on the grounds of the Sawdust Art Festival.  The holy men, who are artists and scholars from Tibet’s oldest monastery, will construct a mandala, an intricate design made from fine, multi-colored sand, sing their unique trichord chanting at the beginning and end of each day, perform blessings to conjure positive energy at homes and businesses, and present pujas, stylized rituals that combine chanting, music, prayer and visualizations using Tibetan instruments and multi-tonal singing. 

A volunteer committee of organizers led by musician Pam Wicks has arranged for hosting the monks in a private home, as well as their meals and transportation. Wicks commented, “We feel very fortunate to be on the itinerary of the Drepung Gomang Sacred Arts Tour, whose members, these eight cheerful monks, have been traveling from community to community across the United States since early 2018. Having them as our guests to share their art, culture and blessings is a marvelous opportunity for everyone in our community to learn about this struggling nation’s history, culture and Tibetan Buddhism.”

Visitors are invited to observe morning and evening chanting rituals and to watch the mandala creation from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily on Jan. 29, 30, 31, Feb. 1 and 2. Final touches on the mandala will be completed from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 3. When the mandala is finished, the monks will conduct the dissolution ceremony, sweeping their creation into a pile of sand to illustrate the ephemeral nature of all endeavors.  Guests will be offered a small bag of the sand to take home as a reminder of the fleeting quality of this life and the importance of good works and positive efforts while here.  The dissolution ceremony includes a procession from the Sawdust grounds to Main Beach, where the monks will chant, play instruments, and cast away the handfuls of sand that had been a beautiful mandala that took days to complete.

The Sawdust Festival has generously offered the use of its grounds for this event. All events are open to the public; donations are gratefully accepted and will be used to support the monks’ educational and spiritual efforts toward world peace. 

House blessings by the monks at homes, offices, galleries, and churches are available from Jan. 28 – Feb. 5. Call organizer Pam Wicks at 949-573-7104 for information and scheduling. The Sawdust is located at 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach. Metered parking is available. See the schedule on Facebook at https://bit.ly/2PKHz0g   

Drepung Gomang Monks’ Visit to Laguna Beach – Complete Schedule
Each day, guests may come to hear the monks’ unique trichord chanting at the beginning and end of each day, approximately 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Monday, Jan. 28
• Opening ceremonies for the creation of the White Tara Mandala 10 – 11 a.m.

  • 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation 
  • 4 – 5 p.m.  Discussion of the meaning of the White Tara Mandala 

Tuesday, Jan. 29
• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation
• 7 – 8 p.m. Chanting for World Peace and “Meet the Monks” followed by Q and A.        Suggested donation $10
Wednesday, Jan. 30
• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation
• 7 – 8 p.m. Tara and Guru Puja for good health, relief of suffering and purifying obstacles. Suggested donation $10
Thursday, Jan. 31
• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation
Friday, Feb. 1
• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation
• 7 – 9 p.m.   Chod Puja, a combination of chanting, music, prayer, and visualizations accompanied by Tibetan instruments. Suggested donation $10

Saturday, Feb. 2

• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mandala creation
• 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Children’s workshops, artist’s booths and displays, meditation garden, labyrinth on the Sawdust grounds
• 7 – 9 p.m. Cultural pageant featuring Mandala Prayer, the Good Luck dance, the Black Hat dance, the Snow Lion Dance, and more.  Main Stage on the Sawdust grounds. Suggested donation $10 single, family $20, under 10 years free.

Sunday, Feb. 3
• 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Mandala creation and subsequent dissolution

  • 1 p.m. White Tara mandala dissolution ceremony and procession on foot to Main Beach

Tuesday, Feb. 5

• 10 a.m. – Blessing of the South Laguna Community Garden Park, Coast Highway at Eagle Rock Way. Donations accepted. 

The Drepung Gomang monks’ mission

These geshes (monk scholars) are supported by donations from the host community. Drepung Gomang Center for Engaging Compassion is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Tashi Gomang Dharma Center in Louisville, Kentucky hosts the nationwide Drepung Gomang Sacred Arts Tours annually in the United States as the monks visit dozens of communities to share compassion and joy.

The four-fold mission of the visitors from the Drepung Gomang Monastery is to: Contribute to world healing and peace by sharing Tibetan Buddhist teachings, sacred religious performances, chanting, and Tibet’s unique identity and treasures of culture and authentic traditions.
• Generate awareness of the endangered Tibetan civilization and human rights abuses by the Communist Chinese since 1959, and to draw attention to an increasingly desperate situation due to massive displacement of Tibetans by Chinese citizens sent there by the Communist government.
• Raise support for the refugee monk community in south India – food, healthcare and hygiene needs, plus improvements to their educational facilities.

• Offer prayers to heal human and environmental tragedies and promote stewardship of the earth.

About the monks’ home, Drepung Gomang Monastery 

Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 near Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Gomang Dratsang or “College” is the oldest of the four colleges of Drepung. In 1959, before the invasion of Communist China, Drepung monastery had more than 10,000 monks. Gomang alone had about 5,500 monks.

Since its founding, Gomang College has produced many eminent Buddhist masters and has been an important Tibetan and Buddhist learning center. Each of the colleges of Drepung has its specialty, and the focus of Gomang is philosophy: logic and debate.

In 1949, as the Chinese Communists were attempting to establish control of large swaths of Asia, the Korean War was fought to stop this domination. Meanwhile, on the other side of China, the army of the People’s Republic of China invaded Tibet. No one came to the aid of this sovereign territory and by 1959, the political and spiritual leader of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, was forced to flee his country. He was immediately followed by 80,000 refugees. Refugees continue to stream from Tibet, often at great peril to their lives. Since 1949, more than 1.2 million Tibetans have died at the hands of the Communist Chinese.

Escape from Tibet
Only about 100 monks managed to escape with His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he fled Tibet in 1959. They lived first in Boxa, North India, and then, in 1969, 62 of the surviving Gomang monks were given 42 acres of land in Mundgod, south India. There they started to rebuild Drepung Gomang Monastic Dratsang in its present location. Today approximately 2,000 monks live on these few acres.

Location and Service

Gomang is located in Mundgod part of a larger Doeguling Tibetan settlement of 16,000 people. Besides the monastery, this settlement includes nine camps for lay people, a Central Tibetan Administration office, a school for lay Tibetans, a hospital, a medical center, a nunnery, a home for the elderly, a bank, a café, and a guest hostel.

Gomang Monastery interacts with the larger Tibetan community, teaching the three R’s in the school, assisting in the hospital, elder care facility, and providing training in Tibetan arts and crafts for the young people of the settlement while offering employment for the local Tibetan and Indian people. Also, the monks perform religious ceremonies for the Tibetans. All of these services are provided at no charge to the Tibetan community. Learn more at drepunggomangusa.org

Mandala Room Etiquette

Visitors often ask the question: “How should I conduct myself properly in such a place”? Please consider the Mandala Room at Healy House a sacred area that is to be entered and experienced with respect. Following are guidelines to help you feel at ease and enjoy your visit: 

• Before entering, please SILENCE your mobile phone. 

• Photography is permitted WITHOUT the use of a flash.  Please speak in a quiet voice and remember this is a sacred space. 

• Children are welcome; however, we request that guests consider the experience of other visitors. 

• Please observe the Sacred Sand Mandala carefully, since it is constructed from loose sand and is very fragile. Do not touch the sand. 

• During work breaks, the monks are happy to interact and have photos taken. An interpreter may or may not be available to help with language translation – but the monks are cheerful nonverbal communicators!

Media contact:
Barbara McMurray
McMurray Marketing Communications

Barbara McMurray 
McMurray Marketing Communications
PR • writing • marketing • grant writing 
949-233-9548 mobile


600 Diamond Street
Laguna Beach, California 92651

Fortune favors the bold. -Virgil


Get Inspired

Explore more of Laguna Beach.