Byline: JOHN CARTER
Their mission is pretty easy to say, but huge in its implications.
They're here to promote world peace.
They're also in a colorful and entertaining troupe and seem to personify the deep spirituality that drives their lives.
They're the Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in India, and they're performing at the Wilson Center at Florida Community College at Jacksonville's South Campus through Sunday.
Longtime event organizer Brenda Star Walker said you have to experience the performances - particularly the multiphonic chanting - in person to appreciate the soul-stirring effect.
"They train their voices very hard and actually create muscle memory to convey the overtones and other sounds you'll never forget," she said.
The monks also wear colorful costumes, play ancient instruments, drums and dance - including the popular snow lion dance, performed by two men in costume and depicting a mythical animal from the high mountains of Tibet.
The centerpiece of the monks' performance is the creation of a sand mandala, an artistic design that devotees of meditation use for centering, focusing and contemplation.
The monks no longer live in Tibet, but instead in a monastery in southern India. Since Tibet was taken over by China in 1959, they escaped to India to practice their religion.
They travel the world to teach people about their native country and to share its culture - and, of course, to share their dream of world peace.
The public can watch the monks create the sacred sand mandala beginning at 11 a.m. today through Saturday. It's free.
Then monks will present a program of sacred music, dance and chanting at 2 p.m. Saturday.
The cost for the 50-minute program is $12 general admission with discounts for FCCJ students …