Buddhist Ceremonies and Rituals of Sri Lanka by A.G.S. Kariyawasam

By A.G.S. Kariyawasam

In the entire nations into which Buddhism has unfold, the 'great culture' of classical Buddhism is observed via a 'small culture' of neighborhood ceremonies and rituals that aid to combine the lofty teachings of the Buddha into the typical issues of the folk. This 68-page publication presents a concise survey of the neighborhood ceremonies and rituals which have been built-in through 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 value in Sri Lanka.

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The Pirit Ceremony P irit (or paritta) is a collective term designating a set of protective chants or runes sanctioned by the Buddha for the use of both laymen and bhikkhus. Pirit-chanting is a very popular ceremony among the Buddhists of Sri Lanka. As the term itself implies it means a safety rune (paritta = protection), the ceremonial recital of which is regarded as capable of warding off all forms of evil and danger (vipatti), including disease, the evil influence of the planets, evil spirits, etc.

The Buddhists seem to have adopted this to suit their purposes. 26 ••• The annual Esala Perahera in Kandy, held in honor of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, is the most colorful traditional procession in the country. It is the prototype of the other peraheras held elsewhere in the island in such places as Kataragama,11 Aluthnuwara, Lankatilaka, Bellanwila, Devinuwara, etc. c. Although periodically there have been intermittent breaks due to unsettled political conditions, the festival was never neglected intentionally.

As the parittas generally embody statements of truth as taught in Buddhism their recitation is regarded as an “asseveration of truth” (saccakiriya) whereby evil can be averted. The Ratana Sutta is a good example of this kind of paritta. It draws its power by wishing the listeners safety after affirming the excellent qualities of the Three Gems of Buddhism — the Buddha, Dhamma, and the Sangha. The power of virtue (sila) contained in the Mangala Sutta and the power of loving kindness (metta) contained in the Metta Sutta are two other aspects that make pirit effective.

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