Visiting Buddhist Shrines and Buddha Images
Buddhists regularly visit shrines and pay their respect to the image of Lord Buddha. However, this practice did not exist in past as it was only five centuries after the Buddhas mahaparinirvana that the practice of making images of the Buddha started. The images of the Buddha aid devotees to concentrate and express their deep reverence and gratitude for the teachings of the great master. Moreover, the images constantly remind the devotees of the great compassion and wisdom that the Buddha embodies. The images are a source of inspiration to develop within them these qualities.
Visiting Buddhist shrines gives a peace that is unparalleled, specially when a person is angry and depressed. The calm atmosphere of the shrine instils tranquility that helps to relax.
Folding of Palms
While offering their prayers, Buddhist bring their palms together. This act is meant to convey respect to the Three jewels of Buddhism the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.
To prostrate is to cast oneself face down on the ground to express humility, submission, or admiration. In Buddhism, Buddhists carry out prostration before the image of the Buddha and the Sangha to show their respect for them. Prostration also helps a person to subdue the egoistic feeling and prepare to accept the teachings of the Buddha.
Offering to Buddha is meant to win his blessings. Also, we make offerings to create a positive energy, develop good qualities and remind ourselves of the certain teachings of the lord.
For example, the offering of Light stands for spread of wisdom. Light dispels darkness which is due to ignorance. It lets the light of wisdom to dawn upon an individual.
Offering of incense is meant to remind devotees that it is extremely important to develop good conduct. Fragrance of incense stands for the fragrance of moral conduct.
Water is a symbol of purity, clarity and calmness. The offering of water is intended to remind devotees that just as water cleanses all impurities and dirt, the Buddhas teaching cleanse our mind of desire, evilness and ignorance. The teachings are the means by which one can attain the state of purity.
Fruit is a symbol of the ultimate enlightenment which is the goal of every Buddhist. They are also intended to remind of the effect that ones actions have.
The offering of flowers is meant to remind Buddhists that everything in the world is temporary, just as the fragrance, freshness and the beauty of the flower. The offering also reminds of the Buddhas teaching that the present is what needs to be valued most.