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published: 12/10/04
updated: 7/5/13

Buddhist Rituals & Practices

What are Buddhist Rituals and Practices?

Thai Buddhists at a temple in Chiang Mai

Buddhism incorporates a variety of rituals and practices, which are intended to aid in the journey to enlightenment and bring blessings on oneself and others. While some activities are unique to certain expressions of Buddhism, there are others that are found in most of the popular forms of the belief system.

For example, the practice of meditation is central to nearly all forms of Buddhism, and it derives directly from the Buddha’s experiences and teachings. Meditation is is the central focus of Zen Buddhism and the only way to liberation in Theravada Buddhism. (Comparison Chart: Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism)

In addition to meditation, the Mahayana schools of Buddhism have developed a variety of other ritual and devotional practices, many of which were inspired or influenced by the existing religious cultures of India, China, Japan, Southeast Asia, and Tibet. (Also see Chinese Religion, Taoism, and Confucianism)

Common practices

Burmese monks
Burmese monks on their morning alms rounds. Photo © Sara Heinrichs.

Prayer at Buddhist temple, Thailand
Devotion at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Photo: elbisreverri.

Pilgrims at Jokhang Temple, Tibet
Pilgrims at Jokhang Temple in Lhasa, the holiest site of Tibetan Buddhism. Photo: Hungry J.

The articles in this section provide an overview of some of the main Buddhist sacred rituals and practices. Please click on a link to learn more about the practice and scroll below for more articles on Buddhism.


  • Meditation - Meditation in Buddhism refers to mental concentration and mindfulness
  • Mantras - Mantras refers to sacred sounds
  • Mudras - Mudras are symbolic hand gestures
  • Prayer Wheels - Prayer wheels assist in reciting mantras with the turn of a wheel

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