According to the Huffington Post, Tibetan Buddhist monks have traveled across the globe to build these sacred cosmograms for more than 2,500 years. Contrary to popular belief, the mandalas signify more than impermanence—they're meant to be a representation of the world in divine form, one that heals both the Earth and its inhabitants.
They also take a lot of work. A five-foot-square mandala requires millions of pieces of sand and can take weeks to complete. First, the monks hold an opening ceremony where the land is consecrated with music, chants, prayers, and mantras. Then, the monks meticulously map out their mandala's geometric patterns. After at least a full day of drawing, they apply naturally dyed grains of Himalayan sand using special copper funnels and a scraper in a process that could take weeks. Multiple monks work to complete the design, then hold a second consecration ceremony before dismantling the whole shebang.