In the online book Good Questions, Good Answers there is the question

Why do people do all kinds of strange things in Buddhist temples

In the answer it says

It's true that some of the things Buddhists do have their origin in popular superstition

There are no examples to illustrate this statement though in the text. So can anyone give one or two examples of Buddhist traditions (from any school) that owe more to cultural or popular superstitions than the teachings of the Buddha.

Note - this is in no way meant to denigrate any particular school of Buddhism. I'm sure that the practices of many (all?) religions take something from local culture. I just would like some examples to illustrate this particular quote from this text.

1 Answer 1


This article describes the celebration of Vesak Day or Wesak Day 2015 at a Thai Buddhist temple (and therefore of the Theravada tradition) in Malaysia, near the capital city.

The author provides an example:

This leads to the highlight of the day - chanting and blessings by monks and ending the short session (which lasts no more than 5 minutes) with a shower of "holy water".

The monks softly chants a Thai variety of the Ti-Ratana Vandana (homage to the Triple Gem), five precepts and punnanumodana (sharing of merits). For most however, these chants are exotic and spiritual, and are perceived to have "supra mundane" powers. It is no wonder then that many devotees place their personal belongings - amulets, religious icons and even car keys - onto a tray held by the monk who performs the chanting.

Their belief - mistaken or otherwise - is that these chants contain "spiritual powers" which are then transcended into their items, which when worn or used, protects them from harm or danger. The ceremony ends with the tying of yellow coloured strings on the wrist, a symbolic notion of the presence of the Sangha in the laity. Of course, if one wishes, they can also make a donation to the monk concerned for his service by putting money into a metal box.

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