In Buddhism there is no single place of worship. This is because Buddhists can worship in the home or in the temple. Although Buddhists show devotion at home, they also use the temple as this is the heart of the community.
Different Buddhist places of worship serve different purposes:
Buddha statues may be found in any of these places of worship. Statues or images of the Buddha are called Buddharupas. They show the Buddha in various poses and states. Buddhists do not worship the Buddha as a god, but respect and honour him as a role model and teacher.
The different types of offerings Buddhists may give include:
Both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism have a presence in the UK. Theravada Buddhism is commonly found in Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Theravada temples and viharas in the UK have been founded by monks and nuns from Thailand, Myanmar (Burma) and Sri Lanka. These temples and viharas in the UK reflect the cultural and linguistic traditions of those other countries. They also reflect universal Buddhist teachings (eg the monks and nuns might wear white clothes).
Mahayana Buddhism is commonly found in the regions north of Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal – Tibet, China, Japan and Korea. Mahayana Buddhists often show devotion to Bodhisattvas as well as the Buddha. The Kadampa school of Mahayana Buddhism, which has temples, meditation halls and teaching centres all over the UK, was founded by a Tibetan monk named Geshe Kelsang Gyatso.
In Britain, it is more common to find Buddhist centres in buildings that resemble community halls than in temples and viharas with typical Buddhist features. However, there are some examples of more traditional Buddhist buildings.
What is a stupa?
A stupa is a burial mound built to house relics of the Buddha or another important figure.