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Rituals and Worship

Sacred Time

The Mahayana does not hold a consistent idea of sacred time. The bodhisattvas are always present and active in the world, and thus in a sense all time could be understood to be sacred.

Sacred Space

Mahayana temples represent a kind of sacred space. Mandalas, often elaborate diagrams used in meditation, are another kind of sacred space; practitioners can inhabit the spaces that they represent through various meditation practices.

Rites and Ceremonies

Mahayana Buddhists engage in a tremendous range and variety of rituals and ceremonies: complex meditation practices, ritual devotion to buddhas and bodhisattvas, visualizations, pilgrimage, and mantra recitation.

Worship and Devotion in Daily Live

Mahayana Buddhists worship a wide range of bodhisattvas and semi-divine beings. The Buddha, the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri, and Amitabha, and the goddess Tara are among the most popular objects of devotion, providing protection and guidance to their devotees.


The lotus (purity) and the eight-spoke wheel (the Buddha's teachings, dharma) are ubiquitous symbols in the Mahayana; other common symbols are various hand gestures (mudras), seated and standing postures, the book (dharma and wisdom) and the sword (insight and wisdom).