A mandala is a geometric configuration of symbols. In various spiritual traditions, mandalas may be employed for focusing the mind and attention of practitioners and adepts, as a spiritual guidance tool, for establishing a sacred space, and as an aid to meditation and trance induction.
In the Kalachakra tantra, all elements of the mandala refer to the universe (outer Kalachakra), the body and mind (inner Kalachakra) and the practice (initiation, generation and completion stages).
His Holiness the Dalai Lama:
From 'The Kalachakra tantra, rite of initiation':
"The Kalachakra system was one of the last and most complex tantric systems to be brought to Tibet from India.
In recent years many Westerners have become acquainted with this tradition as various lamas have given the Kalachakra Initiation to large groups of people. I myself have given it several times in Western countries, as well as in India and Tibet. Such initiation are given on the basis of a mandala, the sacred residence with its residence deities, usually depicted in graphic form .
The tradition I follow employs a mandala constructed of colored sand which is carefully assembled prior to each initiation and dismantled once more at the end. Due to their colorful and intricate nature, mandalas have attracted a great deal of interest. Although some can be openly explained, most are related to tantric doctrines that are normally supposed to be kept secret. Consequently, many speculative and mistaken interpretations have circulated among people who viewed them simply as works of art or had no access to reliable explanations.
Because the severe misunderstandings that can arise are more harmful than a partial lifting of secrecy, I have encouraged a greater openness in the display and accurate description of mandalas."
Kalachakra Mandala is often created during the Sand Mandala ritual. Sand Mandala is a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of mandalas made from colored sand. Once complete, the sand mandala's ritualistic dismantling is accompanied by ceremonies and viewing to symbolize Buddhist doctrinal belief in the transitory nature of material life.
In this photo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama placing the first grains of colored sand to start the construction of the Kalachakra sand mandala during the 32nd Kalachakra Empowerment in Bodhgaya, Bihar, India on January 1, 2012.
How to Hang Kalachakra Mandala
It is important to properly display the Kalachakra Mandala.
Kalachakra Mandala has four different colors for the main inner elements: red, yellow/orange, white and black.
The mandala must be oriented with the black side facing down.
For example, you can see four portals on each side of first square: red portal on the left side, yellow portal on top, blue portal on the right, and black portal on the bottom.
The Mandala of Kalachakra is visualized in the practitioner's mind as a three-dimensional palace but it also exists in the physical world. A temple situated in Lhasa is a perfect three dimensional reproduction of the painting. The temple itself contains 722 Deities, while at its center, atop a golden lotus throne, sits a single Buddha: Kalachakra.
It is a five-level structure, that when painted could be considered the top (or bird's eye) view of the structure, with each detail of the painting symbolizing a particular element of the Tantra. As our spiritual journeys grows, we become more and more familiar with the Kalachakra Tantra.