|Fast Facts: Buddhist Practices|
|Overview||Meditation, mantras, devotion to deities (in some sects), mandalas (Tibetan)|
|Holidays||Many festivals, most of which commemorate important events in the life of the Buddha or various Bodhisattvas. They are based on the lunar calendar and often differ by country and tradition.|
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.
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.
With the exception of ordination to the monastic life and funeral rites, life cycle events were regarded as secular affairs for most of Buddhism's history. There is thus no official religious ceremony for milestones like birth, coming of age or marriage as there are in most other world religions.
However, life cycle rituals have developed in Buddhist countries, some of which are generally common to Buddhism worldwide. In addition, once Buddhism came in contact with Western culture, it began to develop its own rituals to mark these events. Today, a variety of rituals have come to be associated with marriage, ordination, and death, which vary significantly between Buddhist schools and geographical regions.