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Definition: shrine 1 from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate(R) Dictionary

(bef. 12c) 1 a : a case, box, or receptacle; esp : one in which sacred relics (as the bones of a saint) are deposited b : a place in which devotion is paid to a saint or deity :sanctuary c : a niche containing a religious image 2 : a receptacle (as a tomb) for the dead 3 : a place or object hallowed by its associations

Summary Article: shrine
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Place regarded as holy due to an association with a divine figure, relic, or event. Shrines are important places in most religions, and are often a focus of worship or meditation.

Buddhist shrines In Buddhism, a shrine may be established anywhere – in a temple adjacent to a monastery, in a pagoda or stupa, in the home, by the roadside, or in a place either of particular natural beauty or connected with an important event in the Buddha's life. It contains an image of the Buddha, which serves as a focus for worship (puja), as well as offerings and symbolic objects.

In Mahāyāna Buddhism, the shrine may contain images of other Buddhas, bodhisattvas (those who put off their final liberation to help other beings, and to whom believers may pray for help), and devas (divine beings). In Mahāyāna Tibetan Buddhism, or Lamaism, the images may include a thanka, a wall hanging depicting the lives of the bodhisattvas.

Tibetan Buddhists place offerings at their shrines to symbolize the five senses, emphasizing the bringing of all the senses to worship and meditation. A pot of water signifies the sense of touch, used to honour the Buddha by washing his feet. A second pot of water is an offering for the Buddha to drink. Flowers symbolize the sense of sight, and represent both beauty and impermanence. Incense is lit for the sense of smell, and to create an atmosphere; perfume may also be used. Candles or lamps are lit to signify the light of understanding. Food is offered to the Buddha for the sense of taste, and as one would honour a guest with good food. A shell that can be blown to produce a sound represents hearing.

The shrine in a Buddhist's house will be much simpler, and perhaps occupy a corner of a quiet room in the house. It will have an image of the Buddha, prayer beads, pictures of important people in the life of the worshipper, devotional objects, flowers, rice, a bell, and candles.



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