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Rituals and Worship

Sacred Time

The most auspicious times are the lifetimes of the Buddhas; second in auspiciousness are periods like the present in which a Buddha's religion remains in the world. Fortnightly and annual holidays focus on the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.

Sacred Space

The sacred geography of the Buddha's north Indian homeland has been recreated in the Theravada countries through shrines that house relics or images of the Buddha or mark events in the history of Buddhism in those countries.

Rites and Ceremonies

Central components of Theravada rituals are preaching and chanting by monastics and giving offerings by laypersons. Rituals include the fortnightly uposatha observance, annual holidays such as Vesakha, and occasional rituals such as funerals and rites for the dead.

Worship and Devotion in Daily Life

Traditional daily observances for monastics include chanting, meditation, and observing the Vinaya. Traditional daily observances for laity are to observe the five precepts and to offer food to monastics, and in recent years meditation and devotional rituals have become regular practices for many laypersons.


The Buddha image, thupa, wheel of the Dhamma, monastic robes and tonsure, bo tree, Buddhist flag, and other Theravada symbols represent Buddhism as a whole. Many of these symbols have characteristic regional forms, but not distinctively pan-Theravada forms.