Tibetan Monks at the Alster Lake in Hamburg

Sunday afternoon I was blessed to join a procession of Tibetan monks. Last week the four Geshes from the Sera Je monastery created a sand mandala at MARKK (Völkerkundemuseum) in Hamburg, Germany. On Thursday, I went to the museum to get a glimps of their work already. To me it seemed that it is a very meditative process to make the mandala. The monks created the mandala out of coloured dyed sand laid out into beautiful designs. It took four days for them to complete this mandala.

Tibetan Monks from Sera Je make a sand mandala at MARKK in Hamburg

Tibetan Monks from Sera Je make a sand mandala at MARKK in Hamburg

When they were finished, they wiped it all away in a ceremonial act. They let it all go, without pain or regrets. This is hapiness, just being in the present moment! The week before I already joined this ritual which was performed on open day of the new Tibetan Center in Hamburg-City.

 

I quite like the meditative sound that their tools make when strewing the sand. It is definitely something you do not see and hear everyday! It is a process that requires a high level of concentration.

Sunday afternoon was the time for the ceremonial dismanteling of the mandala followed by the ritual of releasing the sand into a nearby lake. Since the Alster is close to the MARKK, we went from there to Rabenstraße. On the way, the monks were chanting a mantra that sounded familiar to me though I could not remember the name. Later that day, I did a bit of research and found out that it was the Avalokiteshvara Mantra which calls on the Buddha of compassion. I like the soothing yet uplifting sound of this mantra.

The four Geshes, walking to from MARKK to the Alster lake in Hamburg

The four Geshes, walking to from MARKK to the Alster lake in Hamburg

At the pier Rabenstraße the monks performed the ceremomial act accompanying the finaly dissolution of the mandala. The Geshes chanted in Tibetan language and unfortunately I did not know the meaning of their chanting but it was a wholesome event with a lot of positive energy.

 

After releasing the sand into the Alster, we had the opportunity to thank the Geshes and take pictures of them.

Four Tibetan monks from Sera Je at the Alster in Hamburg

Four Tibetan monks from Sera Je at the Alster in Hamburg

Finally, I may say that I’ve felt very happy to have joined the four Geshes in Hamburg. These are one of the rare spiritual (Buddhist) events over here, Even though coming from another Buddhist tradition, I really appreciate the opportunity to get to know more about Tibetan Buddhism in general.




New Tibetan Center in Hamburg, Germany

Today I would like to present to you the new Tibetan Center in Hamburg, Germany. I know this topic is not about Thailand. However, it relates to Buddhism in general. The Tibetan Center, under the patronage of H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, has just recently opened a new location in Hamburg City (Güntherstr. 39, HH-Hohenfelde).

Tibetisches Zentrum, Guentherstrasse 39 in Hamburg, photo: tibet.de

Tibetisches Zentrum, Güntherstrasse 39 in Hamburg, photo: tibet.de

I am happy about that because this center is actually very close to my place and I am looking forward to stopping by for evening meditation now and then.

New Tibetan Center in Hamburg-City

New Tibetan Center in Hamburg-City

Well, some of you might know that I practice Vipassana in the tradition of Ajahn Tong, which is a meditation technique in the Theravada tradition. I am not about to switch or mix up my meditation practice but I think some additional Samatha and Metta meditation cannot be wrong.

Buddhaimage at the Tibetan Center, Hamburg

Buddhaimage at the Tibetan Center, Hamburg

Last Sunday I went to visit the center and I must say that it is really a very nice, neat and peaceful place. Just an ideal location for meditation! I recall that about 12 years ago I did a weekly course about Buddhist Psychology at the Tibetan Center in Farmsen-Berne. This was actually my first course in Buddhism and also the first formal Buddhist meditation practice that I did.

Time for meditation at the Tibetan Center Hamburg-City

Time for meditation at the Tibetan Center Hamburg-City

On open day last weekend, Tibetan monks performed some rituals among these were the creation of a sand mandala followed by the ritual destruction of it. When I arrived at the center, the mandala had already been completed. I think that creating this kind of mandala from fine coloured sand is a very meditative act and the monks also put their metta and well wishes into this work of art. I have learned that the mandala is for visualizing the Buddha Avalokiteshvara, who is generally known as the Buddha of universal compassion.

Sand mandala on the opening day of the Tibetan Center Hamburg-City

Sand mandala on the opening day of the Tibetan Center Hamburg-City

However, there is a lot more symbolism to the mandala but in short, it stands for impermanence and the transitory nature of material life. I also got to witness the ritual destruction of the sand mandala which is a highly ceremonial act.

Tibetan monks and the ritual around the destruction of the sand mandala

Tibetan monks and the ritual around the destruction of the sand mandala

Destruction of the sand mandala

Destruction of the sand mandala

The deity syllables are removed in a specific order along with the rest of the geometry. Once the mandala has been completely dismantled, the sand is collected in a jar which is then wrapped in silk and brought to a river. Hence, we went to the nearby Kuhmühlenteich which is close to the Alster lake. There the monks released the sand into the water and thus back into nature. This symbolizes life’s transitoriness and impermanence of the world in general.

Tibetan monks, going to the nearby river at Kuhmühlenteich, Hamburg

Tibetan monks, going to the nearby river at Kuhmühlenteich, Hamburg

Tibetan monk releases sand from the mandala into the water

Tibetan monk releases sand from the mandala into the water

Summing up, I may say that it was a very interesting and uplifting afternoon at the new Tibetan Center in Hamburg-City. I will defintely stop by there for meditation and I am also curious about other courses or seminars relating to meditation practice.




Photoshooting with Thai Fabric Jewelry

It’s been quite a while since my small handicraft shop ‘Sirinya Ann’s Atelier’ has been active. I first started out handcrafting items from Thai fabric in 2013. I don’t sell anymore but I still enjoy wearing the articles myself. Thus, recently I’ve had the idea to wear an extravagant collar necklace for a photoshoot. It turned out amazing and unique. I really love wearing jewelry that I created myself and that nobody else has.

Thai Fabric Jewelry

Sirinya wearing a colllar necklace made from Thai fabric

Sirinya wearing a colllar necklace made from Thai fabric

I realized that this kind of diy jewelry is truly amazing for giving an extravagant touch to any outfit. Though by now I’ve nearly run out of my crafting materials from Thailand, I still very much love creating accessories and jewelry with traditional Thai fabric.

En Vogue with a statement necklace made from Thai brocade

En Vogue with a statement necklace made from Thai brocade

 

Fashionshoot with Thai brocade necklace

Fashionshoot with Thai brocade necklace

I wish I had more access to these fabics but living in Germany, they are hard or even impossible to obtain. In this context, I’m also reminded of the Siamese fashionista, a trend that came up about four years ago. I recall that was a group that tried to maintain the way Siamese people dressed in prior centuries. I’m not sure what has become of this group and if traditional Thai clothing has become a dress that can be worn on any occasion. However, I very much like the idea of dressing in the traditonal Thai way. Crafting small items from Thai fabric has been my way to relate to this trend.

Wearing Thai fabric jewelry

Wearing Thai fabric jewelry

Finally, all I can say to finish off this little post, is that I’d really love to wear a traditional Thai dress and also that I’d like to have more fabrics of this kind for crafting.