be kind to yourself - be kind L I F E S T Y L E  ии  R I T U A L S

R  E  S  O  U   R  C  E  S


Buddha Mind - get one, be one.


fan in decorative stand

The ritual of taking the Five Precepts is almost always accompanied by taking the Three Refuges. These two factors form the foundation of being a lay Buddhist.

The ceremony is conducted by a member of the sangha at the request of the laity. It begins by one of the lay people bowing three times (to the sangha) and then with hands in anjali reciting the traditional Pali request (see: PRECEPTS). There is then a series of chanted lines in Pali with responses. The ceremony can sometimes be preceded by the offering of a tray; usually of flowers, candles and incense. Occasionally a Buddha image might be offered and sometimes a length of robe material.

The Precepts and Refuges ceremony is probably the most common ritual seen in a Buddhist situation and will often precede most other rituals, ceremonies or celebrations. Perhaps for this reason it is relatively simple. Although brief and to the point the implications and scope for contemplating the principles involved in the refuges and precepts are considerable.

The member of sangha giving the precepts may use a fan. This is held before the face and is intended to de-emphasise the personality of the individual monk or nun. The idea is that in this way the precepts are given on a more symbolic, rather than personal, level and the connection is with the sangha as an ideal institution. This is probably the most common use of the fan.

The king of Thailand offering a ceremonial fan

In a traditional Buddhist culture the fan can function as a sign of 'office' with elaborate or ornate ones being given to respected senior sangha. As well being used in the precept ceremony the fan is sometimes used as a 'divide' when a monk is talking with women. This relates to the various rules around the celibate lifestyle and although this it is not a specific training rule it is sometimes seen as a useful extension of the need to 'protect' both male and female members of the community. [c.f. the offering cloth - DANA, also MONASTICISM - VINAYA]
It is quite commonly seen used in Burma and Sri Lanka.