In my recent visit to Sri Lanka, a country that is over 70% percent Buddhist, I was on a mission to not only visit a monastery or temple but also attend a Puja ceremony. The temple of the Sacred Tooth is important to Buddhists because it is home to one of Buddha’s teeth. Not sure if it’s true or not but the story I was told was that after Buddha was cremated in India, one if his recovered teeth somehow made it back to Sri Lanka and was given to the king and was then passed on from generation to generation until it made it to the king’s hands in Kandy. The temple is an architectural delight with a contemporary feel but yet remains in the traditional buddhist building details. It’s a great place to walk around and relax for a bit with it’s several gardens and sitting areas.
Puja comes from the Sanskrit word meaning the act of worship; to honor and it is a devotional act practiced daily at the temples and at home as well during the mornings or evenings or both. The ceremony involves an offering which is usually fruit or flowers, chanting and praying and it is dedicated as a form of worship and thanks for Buddha. At the temple there are Puja ceremonies at 6:00AM, 10:00AM and 6:00PM, I recommend the evening one just so you can check out the sunset from the temple it is the most amazing sight. Get there around 4-5PM because, trust me, you will want a couple of hours to walk around the grounds. Two things you can’t miss before Puja:
1. Stupas: stupas are believed to house the mind of Buddha and are these half-dome-shaped structures with a pointy top that are near every Buddhist temple. It is believed that if you circumambulate clockwise around it, starting at the sanctuary doorway, for three times you gain points for your karma so get on it!!
2. Prayer candles: the temple has a glass structure where more than 200 candles are lit as prayers and thanks so make sure to light up a candle during your visit.
During Puja ceremony you will first see some men chanting and drumming, as a way of introduction to Puja. During the Puja hours, the tooth which is usually kept out of sight is taken out of its chamber and people line up to catch a glimpse of the golden case that holds the tooth. It does get crowded of course, but it is totally worth it. Worshipers will come to offer flowers for the tooth and if you want you can buy them outside of the temple as well.
Make sure your legs and shoulders are fully covered and that goes for men too; if you are wearing shorts you will be forced to buy a lungi (man-skirt). Entrance fee is close to 10$ USD but it is totally worth the splurge.
For more info visit site through the link.