Puja is a Pali word which means 'honour,
worship and devotional attention'. It can describe a variety
of forms but in our monastery it generally refers the twice daily
gathering of the community in the main meditation hall.
We meet first at 5 am. The idea is that for those junior, punctuality
means getting there at least five minutes early. While it is not an
allocated duty those that arrive first should ensure that the shrine
is prepared; see that candles, incence and matches are available,
that the senior person's seating place is in order and the hall is
The group waits in silence until the senior person rings a bell to
begin. They go from their seat to the shrine and light the candles
and incence. The group kneels with their hands in anjali
(c.f.) until the senior person returns to their seat and then all
There is then about 20 minutes or more of chanting in Pali or English.
The chants are a mixture of doctrine and devotion. There is then a
period of silent meditation until 6:30 when the bell is again rung
to signal the end of the sitting. Usually an uplifting verse is chanted
followed by a closing homage which ends the meeting.
Elements involved in a puja:
||Flowers, candles and incense on the shrine [see ART
||An act of humility before a person (perhaps a senior
member of the sangha) or before the shrine, and what it represents.
||These neeed not be limited to offeings on the shrine [see
FESTIVALS / VESAK].
||The use of traditional chants to connect with both
the wisdom teachings of the Buddha and to the devotional heart.
||Opening in silence to the 'spirit' of the occasion
or contemplating an aspect of the teaching.|
||Developing a sense of communion with all present through
group activity, bowing, chanting, etc.|