Critically Reading a Religious Ritual
* Describe when the ritual takes place. Does it respond to some particular event? It is held at specific time of year? Is it held on a regular basis? Is it performed only when needed? * What causes a group of people to hold or sponsor this ritual? -most commonly used in Tibet as a rite for turning away demons -lay people will ask a monk or lama to perform or advert a future danger * Describe the sequence of events in the ritual.
* Describe the visual scene of the ritual. What are the colors and textures? Are there pieces of visual art used? What to the participants look like? Are there ritual objects involved?
-Buddha surrounds himself with the representation of 4 demons to at each side, statue of Buddha in middle (offerings in front), effigy facing buddha, back to effigy. * Is the entire group included in each event? Are there major and minor aspects of the ritual? It is held over many days? Only a few hours: held for a few hours, depending on the speed of the lama. -lama performing the rite (may or may no be a monk)
-lama visualizes himself as Buddha seated in the middle of four demons. Lama(Buddha) host the demons, then agent who enters into a contract and then as their conqueror. -visualizes a body of persons : avalokitesvara on right, 8 bodhisattvas + 8 monks on left. -then visualizes goddess prajnaparamita (perfection of wisdom)at heart seated on a moon disk -imagines moon disk in center of heart, then the letters of the heart sutra -the letters of the sutra radiate both light and their own sound, serving as offerings to the Buddhas and bodhisattva: alleviate and purify the sufferings and purify all those gathered for thr performance of the rite as the lama contemplates the meaning of emptiness -when recited the sutra standard offerings are made: ablution, flowers, incense, lamps, perfume, food, and music. -moistend image w/ water : 4 demons, 4 formless reams, and dissolve into their molded images. They are invisible, for them to be placated(soothed), they must be made physical and brought into physical presence. Dough images: enter and animate -demons all turn east , turned way from the Buddha by the power of the heart sutra so they face toward the effigy
* Describe the sounds of the ritual. Is there music? Chanting? If so what words are sung or chanted? Is it loud? Or quiet? -chanting/repitition of the heart sutra, probably quiet,
* Does the ritual involve food or drink? If so, who prepares it and how? Who consumes it and when? no * Describe the actions of the participants. What different groups of people are involved? Is there one person in charge of the ritual? The lama(monk or not) Where does each person stand or sit? lama in the middle, retinues at all directions. Are there specific gestures they must perform? Do they dance? Do they move from one place to another? places objects differently throughout the rite, must get up at end to take offerings and images to a safe distance, * Can you imagine the scents, the temperature or the embodied feelings that the ritual creates? Try to describe them. Incense, dark, flowered, many decorations, feeling of safety and danger at the same time *
* What symbols are used in the ritual? –effigy-demons. What do the actions and the objects symbolize? effigy is dressed in garment from patron, faced toward to Buddha, back to lama(devotion)-effigy stands as both a substitute and a protector for the patron, acting as his surrogate before the demons….demons : colors, red, black , yellow, white * Are objects or actions used to represent other things or abstract ideas? * Is the ritual based on a myth or a story? If so, does it recreate it faithfully or are there important differences? Are supernatural beings expected to take part in the ritual? Are special...