Bhutans religion | Buddhism | The Buddhist ritual

The Buddhist ritual

Religious rituals shape the life of all Bhutanese. While they can only be performed by clerics, they also accompany the lay population from birth until death.


 
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Lay people exclusively live in the world of the Relative Reality and do not partake in the rituals and prayers of the monasteries. Their religious activity is concentrated on the collection of virtuous merits by giving donations to religious institutions, by lighting of butter lamps in front of illustrations of gods, by undertaking pilgrimages, or by putting up prayer flags and turning prayer wheels. By doing all of this, the believer expects a favourable rebirth, which will allow him to lead a life that will lead to enlightenment.

Religious activity with the aim of reaching enlightenment is reserved for monks and priests. It is only they who control the correct reading of the mantras (words with immanent power), the gestures of the hands (mudra) which symbolise the ritual elements, and the correct rhythm and intonation of the individual parts of the holy texts. Play audio

When performing a Buddhist ceremony, a variety of ritual instruments and sacrificial offerings are used. Of central importance are mandalas, musical instruments, food sacrifices, figures of dough and thread cross.

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A specific kind of notation shows the correct way of performing prayers. Rhythm, intonation and elaboration underline the reliability of the contents.


Parts of spoken prayers are, as it were, illustrated by specific gestures of the hands, These gestures symbolise a mandala which is being offered. In the centre, formed by two fingers, there is the axis mundi, around which the continents of the world are placed.
Photo by Christian Schicklgruber