Bhutans religion | Buddhism | The Buddhist ritual | Influencing the world | The fire ceremony

The fire ceremony (chinseg)

Fire sacrifices please the deities, who support the believer on his way. There are basically four types of fire sacrifices: peaceful, intensifying, suppressive and powerful ones. Added to these are further ones directed to the many meditation deities. The basic preparations and ceremonies are similar to one another. The sacrificial site must be arranged, the mandalas must be drawn on which the fire sacrifice will take place, and the substances necessary for the sacrificial actions must be prepared.

Peaceful fire sacrifices usually serve for overcoming the consequences of unwholesome actions or defilements and other obstacles. Intensifying sacrifices, on the other hand, are meant to increase wealth, wisdom and merit and extend one's life. A suppressive sacrifice should suppress forces that are harmful to living beings, and a powerful sacrifice drives away all negative forces.



All components which will be sacrificed in the fire are clearly specified in the scriptures, going as far as the specific types of wood. For instance, kusha grass protects against impurity, butter extends one's span of life, sesame seeds wipe out sins, mustard seeds eliminate obstacles, barley accelerates the collection of merit and wheat releases from illnesses. There are also exact rules for every individual aspect of the course of the ritual: the place where the fire sacrifice is carries out, the day and hour, the source of fire which lights the sacrifice, and even the liquid for extinguishing the fire - usually simply water or a mixture of water and milk.

Cremation also counts as one of the fire sacrifices. With the help of meditative power, the body, consisting of flesh, blood and bones, is changed into nectar and offered to the fire deity to relieve the deceased person of their sins and impurities.

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Ritual tools for the fire-sacrifice ceremony (gangzar ganglu), Blades: burnished iron with copper insets, handles: silver with gold-plating, stems: nielloed iron with silver and gold applications, knobs: silver or copper with gold-plating, box: wood and velvet; L: 94 cm, B: 26,5 cm; loan from the Punakha Dzong
The offering of fire sacrifices pleases the deities who support the believers. In a pragmatic interpretation they should help the humans to attain wisdom or religious merit, or to remove obstacles in life and on the way to enlightenment.