With the spread of Buddhism, more and more pilgrims and tourists have started heading off to Buddhist shrine and Buddhist countries to embrace the religion, or to witness its grandeur shrines. After all, it is quite seething to stand right under the Bodhi Tree inside the famous Mahabodhi Temple.
However, we the advent of tourists and pilgrims, a lot of people are flouting the sacred Buddhist rules and disrespecting their culture when they visit one of these shrines.
It is extremely important to conduct yourself properly when you visit some of these gorgeous monasteries and shrines. Some of the countries can even levy a huge fine or arrest you if you flout certain rules while visiting Buddhist temples.
Here are somethings that you should do and somethings that you shouldn’t when you visit a Buddhist site or shrine.
Take Off Your Hat and Shoes
When you visit a Buddhist shrine, the first thing you must do is take off your shoes and hats or caps before entering the temple. This is extremely important. Most of the temples have a separate area for shoes and other such accessories right outside the shrine.
In some of the places, this is not just a mere rule, but a law, and not following this can lead to persecution.
Buddhist shrines are religious grounds, so you need to make sure that you are dressed appropriately while visiting these shrines. Make sure you cover your knees and shoulders. Try and wear full sleeve tops, and long pants.
If you are unable to cover up for any reason, then carry a scarf (some people also sell scarfs outside the temples), and tie it around waist and shoulders to cover yourself up.
Always Be Respectful
One of the most important things about Buddhism is modesty and respect. Make sure you keep your phone on silent, remove an earphone or headphones, and keep your voice low.
- Do not raise your voice, shout or yet under any circumstances.
- You also cannot smoke, chew hum or wear hats, as all of them are seen as marks of disrespect.
The Buddha Is Supreme
Undoubtedly Lord Buddha is held at the highest regard in Buddhist shrines. Thus, you must make sure that you follow strict rules and protocols when you approach his idol. Lord Buddha’s idol is usually kept on a raised platform. Under no circumstance, can you climb, touch or even sit on a Buddha statue or the platform.
You must also take permission before taking your cameras out and clicking away.
Another common rule in these shrines is that you should walk backwards, and only when the idol of Lord Buddha is out of sight, you can turn your back and walk out.
Pay Your Respects To Everyone
If at any given time you are sitting and monks and nuns enter then you must stand up and bow your head. This is a mark of respect and is highly important.
Even when you are interacting with monks and nuns keep in mind certain rules. Monks are extremely amicable and friendly people, however, you need to hold them in high regard.
Some things you need to keep in mind are:
- If you see a monk sitting, then first sit then start a conversation. If you can then you should also never sit higher than the monk.
- While sitting, be aware of where your feet are pointing toward. In Buddhism, feet are the lowest part of the body, so they associated with dirt and impurities. You need to ensure that your feet never point at any Buddhist when you are sitting.
- If you choose to give something, or if a monk is giving you something then always use your right hand and not your left hand.
- Avoid eating in front of a monk. You need to be modest at all times.
There are a few extra rules for women when it comes to interacting with monks.
If you are a woman then make sure that you never touch or even hand a monk something. You should not even brush past them by mistake. Since monks practice celibacy, they also try and limit their interactions with women.
If as a woman you want to donate, then pass that money on to a man and he will hand it over to a monk.
Don’t Keep On Taking Photographs
While the Buddhist shrine might look regal and elegant, and you are too tempted to just capture the moment on your camera- be aware. Some shrines have no rule against photography, however, in some Buddhist shrines, photography is prohibited.
Some shrines allow photos but without a flash. Make sure you read all the rules and signs for tourists before entering the temple.
Also, do not click a photo of monks who are in deep introspection and meditation. If you do wish to click their photo, then wait for them to finish and then ask their permission first.
Do Not Point – No Matter What
It is not okay to point at anything or anyone when you are inside a Buddhist temple. It is considered to be rude in their religion. The best way to point at something is, point your entire right-hand palm (palm should be facing upwards) towards the thing or person you are pointing at.
You cannot also point your feet at the idol of Buddha.
Don’t Use your Phone All The Time
Don’t use your phone, you should keep it off. Buddhism is all about being in that moment and feeling the class that surrounds you. To feel the true essence of Buddhism, you should detoxify yourself and keep the phone at bay.
Read the rules of the temples and the countries you are visiting. Make sure you don’t break them or go against them. Different shrines and countries have different rules, so be mindful of that too. For example: In Myanmar, you cannot use anything with a Buddha’s image on it. Even if you are wearing a dress with Lord Buddha’s image, then you can be thrown into jail. These are some things that you should know, and also make sure to follow. Buddhists are extremely polite, humble, and warm people. You should always respect that, and follow their cultural rules. This will not only make you a good tourist but also allow you to understand the religion in a deeper way.