Buddhist pujas (poojas) are different to pujas which are offered to Gods. Buddhist pujas are done as a way to respect the wisdom of Lord Buddha, Dharma & Noble Sangha. But God's pujas are done to please gods or to offer energy to them. Buddhist people do different types of pujas. Here below we discuss pujas which are only related to the Buddhist tradition. Puja's are used to show our respects, acceptance & refuge. In the Theri & Thera Apadana Pali & Vimana Vattu verses of the Sutra Pitakaya, it describes the kinds of pujas which help to attain or progress towards Nibbana (Enlightenment) or be reborn into the heavens after our death. Also these pujas help to reduce our negative karmic energy & activate our past life positive karma. Some people think pujas only affect us in the next life, but actually doing pujas help us to gain success in this life both in the material world & for wisdom. From a psychological perspective, these types of pujas help to reduce our stress, make our mind calm & increase wisdom. Buddhist Pujas help us to be reborn in the heavens, because the heavenly realms have the following characteristics which are non-existent in the human world...
Sri Lankan Buddhist pujas can be categorized as following:
This is common merit work done by every Buddhist to respect the wisdom of Buddha. Hence we decide to tell you how we can perform the Bodhi puja correctly. Before doing a Bodhi puja, you must wash your body & mouth. You must prepare fresh pure water mixed with some sweet smells or flowers like jasmine into a pitcher. Also you need flowers, incense sticks & oil lamps for the Bodhi puja. This puja is done as respect to the unlimited wisdom of Lord Buddha which was attained near the Bodhi three. It is good you choose a temple with a lack of people. After you prepare those goods, you must wear white or yellow colored clothing. Firstly you must offer a flower basket in front of Bodhi three, light oil lamps & incense sticks. After that, for a small amount of time you must do simple meditation. Then you can say some Buddha worshiping verses or you can recall the nine virtues of Lord Buddha via your mind. Then you must take the water pitcher into your hand, go around the Bodhi tree & recall the nine virtuous sentences of Lord Buddha. Whilst doing this, you want to put little water drops to roots of the Bodhi tree in all four directions. Till the water pitcher finishes you must recall the virtue powers of Buddha. After that you can sit down and say loudly Buddhist sutras such as Keraniya Metta, Ratana, Maha Mangala, Anattma Lakkana, Damsak Pawatum, etc. For this puja you can use Buddhist books. Then again you must meditate some time such as 15 minutes then you should transfer merits to gods. While performing a Bodhi puja, it is good concentrate on the sound of leaves of trees & feel the environmental calmness. You must use at least one hour to do the Bodhi puja correctly.
This puja is also the same as a Bodhi Puja but you don't use water, only using flowers, incense sticks & oil lamps. Stupa is a building which has noble relics of Lord Buddha or noble Sangha. Every Bodhi tree, temple or stupa is protected by particular god therefore while you do such puja, you can get the attraction of this god too. This is powerful merit work which can be done by everyone without wasting money. Datu means Buddha's or enlightened monk's used goods, skeleton parts, signs, marks or symbols. Popular datu is Lord Buddha's left foot print on the top of the mountain called Siripadha in Sri Lanka. Other world famous datu is Lord Buddha's left tooth at the temple of the tooth or right tooth in Somawathi stupa. In Kelani temple, there is a gem chair which was used by Lord Buddha to sit down when visiting Sri Lanka. White Ruwanwelisaya stupa in Anuradhapura which was built by King Dutugamunu, also has relics of Buddha & enlightened Sangha's skeleton parts. Because Buddha & Noble Sangha learned how to eradicate pain, suffering & rebirthing, we give respect to those stupa & datu.
Lord Buddha said in Parinirvana sutra that visiting historic places & relics of Buddha or fully enlightened Sangha help to gain powerful merit incomes till we reach nibbana. Buddha especially said that four places which are related to Buddha’s life incidents are very helpful to pilgrimage & gain merits. These are: the place where Buddha was born (Lumbini Sala Park), location where Buddha became enlightened (Buddhagaya), place where Buddha preached his first sutra called Dharma Circle (Migadaya) & the location where Buddha passed away (Kusiranawa). Apart from these places other places in India which are very important such as the temple where Buddha said lot of sutras & stayed a longtime such as Jetawanaramaya & Isipatanaramaya. In Sri Lanka there have lot of places & temples which have Buddha's datus, branches of Bodhi trees, stupas & temples. When visiting these places our mind becomes calm & relaxed, this is the noble feeling which helps to gain merits. All Sri Lankan Buddhists must worship these places such as Temple of the tooth which has the left tooth of Buddha, right tooth of Buddha in Somawathi stupa near to Polonnaruwa, Kiriwahera temple where Buddha stayed in Nirodha Samadhi for seven days, Kelaniya temple where Buddha preached Dharma in Sri Lanka, Siri Padha mountain which has the mark of Buddha's left foot & Sri Maha Bodhi tree where has the first branch of the great Bodhi tree.
Another puja done by Buddhist people is called Wisdom puja done for the past existed 28 Buddhas. Some temples in Sri Lanka have stupas for 28 Buddhas, but some temples don't. Hence we can do this puja near any Bodhi tree or temple or stupa. In this puja, we offer & light 28 oil lamps for unlimited wisdom, knowledge & skills of the past exited 28 Buddha. You can also offer 28 water flowers and light 28 incense sticks for their Precepts & Samadhi around the Bodhi tree. Our Lord Buddha also did this puja in his Bodhisattva life times for gaining merit for wisdom. This puja especially helps to gain merit in taking the right decisions & getting rid of wrong decisions in our personal life. This is a very powerful puja therefore good to do every month. Here are names of last 28 Buddha as Buddha Vansa Pali in Sutra Pitakaya:
Tanhankara - Madankara - Saranankara - Dipankara
Kondanghagha - Mangala - Sumana - Rawathi
Sohitha - Anomadassi - Paduma - Naradha
Padumothtara - Sumadha - Sujatha - Piyadassi
Athtadassi - Dhammadassi - Sidhartha - Tissa
Pussha - Vipassi - Siki - Vessabhu
Kakusandha - Konagamana - Kassapa - Gautama.
Mitree Bodhisattva is gaining merit to become the next Lord Buddha. He is currently residing in Tusita heaven or 4th heaven as a powerful god. He said to be god of gods. He is the one who has ultimate merit powers among all other living beings in this universe. In Mahayana Buddhism, people give first place to this god. But Theravada people can ask for blessing, protection & helps from this Mitree bodhisattva god. This god is different than other gods, because he does not have a luxury life in heaven & does meditation, observe precepts & preaches Dharma for other gods. So we don't do the same Buddha puja as for our Lord Buddha the great Gautama. Instead we can offer milk rice without curries, pure water glass, fruit juices & only one fruit for this god in our homes. Also unlike a Buddha puja, we want to offer meals in the morning, lunch & night for this god & drinks can be offered anytime. Only flowers, incense sticks & oil lamps should be offered for Mitree bodhisattva in morning times. Flowers offered to Mitree god should be a basket of white small flowers or water flowers such as three white lotuses only. You want to light incense smells of sandalwood & oil lamps from king coconut oils or sandalwood oils. You want to do this puja after the main Buddha Puja. After that transfer merit of Buddha puja for Mitree god then do puja for Mitree bodhisattva. As we know, every other gods also offer flowers & worship Mitree bodhisattva god because of his ultimate merit powers.