By A.G.S. Kariyawasam

In all of the international locations into which Buddhism has unfold, the 'great culture' of classical Buddhism is observed by means of a 'small culture' of neighborhood ceremonies and rituals that support to combine the lofty teachings of the Buddha into the typical matters of the folk. This 68-page book offers a concise survey of the neighborhood ceremonies and rituals which were built-in over the years into the preferred Buddhism of Sri Lanka. the writer discusses such Buddhist rites because the Refuges and Precepts, devotional worship, the Bodhi-puja, and the pirit rite. the writer additionally explains the holy days and their importance in Sri Lanka.

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Example text

One of the most important parts of the funeral rites is the ritual called “offering of cloth on behalf of the dead” (mataka-vastra-puja). This is done prior to the cremation or the burial of the body. Monks are assembled in the home of the dead person or in the cemetery. The proceedings begin with the administration of the Five Precepts to the assembled crowd by one of the monks. This is followed by the recitation in chorus of the well-known stanza: Anicca vata sankhara, uppadavayadhammino. Uppajjitva nirujjhanti tesam vupasamo sukho.

Having arisen, they cease; their subsiding is bliss. Next follows this ritual, which consists of the offering of a length of new white cloth to the monks. The cloth, called a pamsukula — literally, a dust-heap cloth — is intended to be cut into pieces and then stitched into a robe. After offering it, the close relatives of the deceased sit together on a mat, assume a reverential posture, and together they pour water from a vessel into a cup placed within a plate until the cup overflows. While the water is being poured, the monks intone in unison the following stanzas extracted from the Tirokuddha Sutta of the Khuddakapatha: Unname udakam vattam yatha ninnam pavattati evameva ito dinnam petanam upakappati.

At present Nagadipa is taken to refer to a small island about twelve miles off the western coast of Jaffna, where a Buddhist temple is identified as the place the Buddha visited. However, in historical times, Nagadipa referred to the modern Jaffna peninsula and the northwest of Sri Lanka. ) 29 how the poya day has become intimately connected with the life of the Buddha and consequently with the principal events of early Buddhist history. The Sri Lankan Buddhists, quite accustomed as they are to commemorate such events with rituals and ceremonies in full measure, have maintained these traditions up to the present.

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