Lay People

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Common forms of Buddhist practice for lay persons include visiting temples to pray, burn incense, place offerings of fruit or flowers at altars, and observe rituals performed by monks, such as the consecration of new images or the celebration of a Buddhist festival.


To the left is a picture showing people praying at a Buddhist temple in Shanghai.


What do you notice about the Buddha image? 


Can you tell what it is made of?

Worshipping in a Buddhist temple in Shanghai                source


To the right is a picture showing Buddhist women's association in Taiwan meeting for worship.


Can you identify some objects seen in temples?

Taiwan Buddhist worship meeting                                     source


To the left is the image of a wealthy patron about to be enshrined in a temple in Taiwan.


Look closely and try to describe the situation.

Enshrinement ceremony                                                    source


Lay people are also active at Tibetan Buddhist temples.  Here are some more scenes from Taer Temple in Qinghai province.




This is a scene from Taer Temple in Qinghai Province.


To what kind of object are these Buddhists bowing? 


Notice the position of the bow. What parts of the body are touching the ground?

Partial prostration                                                     source


The bowing figures above were engaged in partial prostration. The figures below are engaged in full prostration. 

This bow begins by standing with hands overhead like the figure in red, then after touching the body at three or four points with the hands, the worshipper lays on the floor with the whole body in contact with the ground like the figure in white.


What do you think might be the significance of engaging the whole body in this manner? 

Full prostration                                                                source


Here lay people observe a religious service at an altar adorned with dough figurines.


What do you notice about the figures? How does the material from which they are made relate to their appearance?

Adorned altar at Taer Monastery                                        source



At left, lay people watch dancers perform.


Do you think the dance is religious in nature? Why or why not?

Dancing performance at Taer Monastery                           source