L. Guan – Week Three – Description of a Ritual

In the lunar calendar in China, on every new moon and full moon days of each month, people used to go to the local temple to offer the flower and fruit to Buddha. And during these two days, Buddhists would practice abstinence from meat as a religious exercise, and also, Buddhists would go to temple to say prayers. Burning incense is another way to represent the respect to the Buddha. But nowadays, considering of the environment and for people’s health, a lot of temple are not allowed to burn the incense. The real meaning of burning incense is to express the respect for Buddha, to be thankful and grateful, with a pious, grateful heart, the Buddha would feel it, and bless all of the world. So, I went to the Yuantong Temple on July 18th, which in the lunar calendar is consider as June 15th, to worship the Bodahisattva, and make the wishes for my families. At the entrance of the Yuantong Temple, I was suggested to take the red candle and three incenses. By the way, the Yuantong Temple is not allowed the outside candle or incenses are brought into the temple. People burn the candle on a shelf, which is full of red candles, and we burn and set our red candle by other candles on the shelf. Later, we can enter the different palaces to make wishes and worship the Bodahisattva or Buddha. There is a free life pond in the temple, and a lot of people bring their goldfish or turtle to the pool, and release them in the pool. There are a lot of different kind of the goldfish in the pool, and some of them are really large, so they might stay in the pool for a long time.

I think this ritual could be considered as a kind of rite of passage. The ritual is not only open for the worshipper, others who would like to worship Buddha are also very welcome to the temples. When someone was stressful, or have some confused need to be solved and enlightened, they can always go to the temple, worship the Buddha, and ask a moment of peace. Also, there are a lot of worshipper meet together, and they became friends in their life. In Buddha’s way, meet is fate, when the worshipper meet, they cherish the meet, and they could easily to be friends, and support each other in their life.

People usually go to visit the Buddha when they have wishes or they need to confess. But some people might consider that if the bad person also go to worship the Buddha, make the wishes. Actually, in Buddha’s way, everyone is the same, no matter what he/she did before, they deserve a chance to make some change. If we could understand others, including their happy or upset feelings, we can naturally open our minds to be accommodating, understanding, content, and grateful. It is a positive cycle, which people would choose to do more good deed.


10 thoughts on “L. Guan – Week Three – Description of a Ritual

  1. This theme of repentance and redemption is prevalent in Islamic rituals as well- supplication is encouraged at every turn to draw upon the blessings of Allah, and people can always start anew in the faith. The idea of fate vs. free will also parallels the two belief systems, and good friendships are the bedrock of Muslim communities. It is interesting to also note that the Islamic calendar is a lunar one as well and that we have our own rituals for paying respect to God(via sacrificing goats and cattle in this case): Eid al-Adha. I think you could have noted that this ritual is a rite of intensification as well because it reinstates values and worship of the Buddha. Indeed, the whole abstinence from meat could be seen as a lite version of fasting, and the reason you cited for people going to the Buddha are very similar to the reasons a lot of people turn to faith: they have wishes they wish to ask a higher power for and/or they’re guilty/confused/or are having trouble coping psychologically and emotionally. This common thread supports the anthropological argument that faith serves to not only maintain community and moral values such as practicing patience, gratitude, and compassion but also to soothe people’s qualms with the world and give them hope for a better tomorrow.

  2. I am an atheist, but my grandmother is Buddhists. Like you description, my family will come to temple to pray in every new moon and full moon days of each month. Although I am not a Buddhists, I maintained respect for all religions, include Buddhism. I am grateful for everything I have, temple give me a place to express my gratitude. Buddhists have strict religious practices provisions, my grandmother will scriptures in fixed day of each month with other Buddhists. This activity also expresses their respect for Buddha and prayer their family members can safe and happy in future day. Every time I go to the temple with respect mood, and my best wish for my family. From an objective point of view, I don’t believe the existence of Buddha, because I am an atheist, but in temple, I find a peace of my mind. I also had found a suitable sustenance for many things, especially upset.

  3. As a muslim myself, i can relate to your observed ritual. Muslims go to the mosque every friday and pray as it is a ritual itself. Islam is a slightly strict religion in certain aspects, as is Buddhism im sure. Allah is the god we worship in our monotheistic religion and it seems as though just like in your religion he does not judge people on their past or what they have done. As long as you ask for forgiveness. He is the most forgiving and in his own way wants everyone to have as many chances as they can get. The idea of always being grateful is very important in Buddhism as well as islam. And this sort of ties into Anthropology as well. We studied that it is important for religion to tie morals to society and make them feel safe and in a better position. It also ties into how society is shaped by religion as it makes people behave a certain way as they were taught by their culture or religion.

  4. Your article on the Buddhists is really informative. Just like the Buddhists, Christians have rituals that they follow. They believe in God who is a supernatural being and Jesus Christ. They have holidays such as lent, Easter and Christmas .During Easter they celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas day. During Lent, they focus on praying, fasting and simple living. They abstain from meat during lent .Christians give offerings to express their gratitude to God and as a way of worshiping him. They meet on Sundays to pray and give thanks to God. It is their day of worship. They read scriptures from the holy bible. Christian scriptures teach about repentance and forgiveness for all sins. The religion condemns things such as stealing, cheating and dishonesty. Christians believe that Jesus died and resurrected on the third day. The Christian religion is practiced by so many people all over the world.

  5. In many religions there are pieces that are similar to others. Sometimes they are celebrated a little differently due to the geographical location and resources available. In reading one persons comments it said that religion often ties mortals to society for many different reasons. I believe the same is true for the aspect of religious variations. People change each religion in variation to match what is important to their cultural beliefs. The variation can also be because the idea that differences make people unique and special in their own way has always been important.

    Overall I believe that repentance is a psychological energy in which vibes are releases and things such as karma really do exist. In America there are so many types of people in our society that there is a mixture of values and morals more so then anywhere in this world. It can be a beautiful thing but we need to make sure that we as individuals never are too quick to judge based on our own religious backgrounds or beliefs.

  6. It seems as though this awesome ritual has something to do with promotion of familiarity. Because there are groups for the worshipers, most of whom don’t know each other but get together anyway to talk about their religion and to help each other out. As you said, many people become closer through these groups and make very strong bonds through their faith.
    This also definitely falls into Instrumental rights. First of all, it’s religious and sacred. Secondly, it really is all about honoring, respecting, and worshiping Buddha or Bodahisattva. Between the candle burning, the incense, and the pond-they all seem to give deference to them.
    When I was in Korea, I went to a temple that was a bit similar. First you had to wash your hands and mouth with water. Then you had to do a series of claps and spins to ward off evil spirits. Finally, you could kneel and ask your ancestors for guidance with whatever was needed. Another thing you could do was write down your worry and tie it to a tree as a symbol of letting it go.

  7. Your passage about Buddhism is intriguing, as I have never heard much about the faith. I thought it was interesting this common trend of redemption and repentance from a supernatural power can be seen across all religions. I thought one of the videos acknowledgements of both personal and supernatural power is the main difference between religions. I think my faith, Christianity; have a lot in common with yours, if I understand it correctly. They are both contingent on personal relationships with our respective Gods. I think people would not seek them for forgiveness and mercy if they did feel this sense of belonging and respect to them. Overall, I agree that this could be viewed as a right of passage. I think repentance is something no one else can do for you. So mature enough to seek grace on your own is a momentous time. I think it could also be a ritual of intensification though because it does somewhat encourage community and coming together since you all gather every full and new moon.

  8. I like how your post seems to be something truly different. Of course everyone has heard of Buddhism, but I feel like most would agree that they do not know much about it, and this post was very informative. I also enjoyed how you explained that traditionally some things were done differently but were changed over time, such as the burning of incense. However, I would have liked for you to have explained a bit more of the why when it can to the traditional methods. Such as why is burning incense showing respect for Buddha? Though I found your description of the rites involved very interesting. Like how you said that it was a rite of passage, but occurs on certain phases of the moon. My schema for rite of passage immediately says no to this since they are usually a one time deal, but you are right, if it changes the person, no matter how often it is, it would still be a rite of passage. Thank you for the very interesting read.

  9. Your post was very informative and gave some great descriptive details about the temple. It was very interesting to learn some of the facts that you mentioned in your post as well such as “The real meaning of burning incense is to express the respect for Buddha, to be thankful and grateful, with a pious, grateful heart, the Buddha would feel it, and bless all of the world” this was interesting to me because this form of your culture spills into a peace of my culture and it’s great to learn that it has sort of a higher meaning. One quote from your post that I found very intriguing was the one about the free life pond.“…, and a lot of people bring their goldfish or turtle to the pool, and release them in the pool. There are a lot of different kind of the goldfish in the pool, and some of them are really large, so they might stay in the pool for a long time” I am curious to know if there is a meaning behind this or if it is just a tradition.

  10. My parents believe in Buddhism, as many traditional Chinese people do. So I personally attended many of these Buddhism rituals when I was young with my parents, though I had no clue why they were doing all these routines at that time. Your post already covered many details of the events in those rituals. I would like to add some of the symbolic meaning of the signs. These kind of rituals are sacred. People want to connect to the deity by doing these. They want their wishes to be heard, their pain and suffering to be felt and healed. By worshiping on bended knees, burning incense sticks and offering, people are trying to direct the supernatural power of their gods. Incense are imposed the symbolic meaning of devoutness. I agree this could be seen as rites of passage in the sense people are seeking healness after the rites. It is also instrumental rites as they are highly associated with religion.

Leave a Reply