Monday, June 18, 2012

Making Mandalas with Julia

I wrote this under the "wellness" section for the Sunday supplement.

An event notification on Vkontakte, a Russian social networking site, intrigued Julia Kazarina. The event invited everyone to attend a workshop on weaving mandalas or Ojos de Dios (Eyes of God) and therapy.
I was surprised to know that one can weave a mandala. I knew that we could draw them, or create them from coloured sand, stones and shells. I found weaving a mandala intriguing and new, so I decided to attend it. Three days after the workshop I started to weave them non-stop. Thenceforth it became my life,” says Julia.
Julia, who recently held a workshop on mandala weaving in Pune, explains the art of Ojo (pronounced as Oho).

Ancient roots
Weaving Ojos de Dios is an ancient art practised by native Indian tribe called Huichol, in Mexico. However, similar art forms are practised in other parts of the world like Namka in Tibet and God’s Eye in ancient Russia. “According to the Huichol Indians, the Ojo, an amulet, protects their households from evil spirits. Today the Ojo has acquired more meaning. For instance, the geometry in the Ojo mandalas is mesmerising, a person can look at it and meditate,” says the 34-year-old.
After Julia started to weave the mandalas, she felt it would be appropriate to make small mandalas with semi-precious stones, which act as amulets. Stones have various properties and carry certain energies, and in a mandala design, they work really well.

Heart over mind
Julia, who has been practising it for two and half years now, says Ojo has made her calmer and wiser. “I have had some powerful insights during weaving. Any time I have a problem or a question I cannot find an answer to, I make a mandala. During or after the process, I find the solution to what’s troubling me,” she says.
During the workshop, Julia encourages the participants to get into the state of active meditation — a state when a person gets so involved in the process, he/she forgets everything else. “This is also the state, when a connection with the soul is established. How their face shines and beams with joy! In this exercise, I advise them to listen to their heart over mind, even when it comes to choosing colours for their art. Our heart is our true guide and we need to be in constant touch with it,” smiles Julia.

In the workshops
A mandala can be made from 2-3 sticks depending on the shape and some wool. One can also add shiny threads, ribbons, beads. “The workshop,” says Julia, “can range from 4 to 8 hours. An 8-sided mandala can be made in four hours, but I stretch it to 5 hours, so that the participants don’t feel the pressure.”

India beckons
A year ago, Julia felt the “India pull”. The feeling of visiting India gripped her, and when she started getting invitations to hold workshops, Julia was convinced that the mandalas were pulling her to India.
Pic Courtesy: Julia Kazarina. Julia with her students
I was 13 when I visited Goa and felt the instant connection — this was ‘My Place, My Home’. When I visited other cities in India, I thought I could help the Indians in easing their stress, health concerns and private fears through the mandalas. It is one means amongst several others. When people start creating, they develop insight, they do become calmer, and do change their lives,” she concludes.

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