Friday, April 17, 2015

AtoZBlogChallenge: O is for Offerings


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My theme this year is Burma AKA Myanmar. I used to live in Laos so I looked forward to returning to Southeast Asia. I spent a little over three weeks exploring this country, learning a bit about its culture: its history, religion, and language. I thought others might enjoy some of what I learned and see some of what I saw. 

Flowers is the third offering to signify the awakening to the beauty around you.

Buddists' offerings are the way to disconnect from attachment to material things and greed. All offerings are done in sevens. Seven bowls and seven meanings for the offerings.

These are the offerings with VERY brief explanations about their significance. I hope the Buddists will forgive these simple explanations.


  1. Drinking Water: (I saw many containers of water at the entrance to the shrines and asked why.) Offering #1 is to bring the end of suffering through thirst.
  2. Bathing Water: Those who offer this water gain merit and dissolve interference with meditation.
  3. Flowers: These are meant to awaken all who see them to beauty around them. 
  4. Incense: This eliminates sour, unhealthy smells and invites others to a place where all smell are fragrant.
  5. Light: Lamps or candles bring light to the world, so all will gain knowledge and enlightenment.
  6. Perfume: These scents interrupt, if only for a short time) the negative patterns of things like aggression, ignorance and attachment.
  7. Food: This is to relieve suffering of hunger and bring into focus food in abundance, so meditation will not be interrupted.

Here's a friend with her offering of flowers.
Answers to N
F 1. All women in Burma are required to become nuns and follow the tradition of what is called the bhikkhunis. (No. But it is something many choose to do. And it's common for younger girls to sign on during vacation time. I've read that an estimated 30,000 women are wearing the pink robe these days.)

F 2. Nuns have an equal status with monks. (Not quite. They're missing what is called "bhun" (glory or power), which is supposed to be stronger in men than in women. But women in Burma wield a lot of power, especially in the matter of family finance.)

NOW what do you know about offerings?

T/F 1. People believe that giving offerings buys them a place in Nirvana.
T/F 2. Offerings are a way to pay respects to the wisdom of Buddha or the Dharma, the Truth.

Answers tomorrow.


34 comments:

  1. Those seven offerings cover it all, don't they?

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  2. Seven is a very significant number in the Bible:) Love the flowers!

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  3. Scent seems to be important in the offerings since it's in there twice. Thank you for the quick summary, it is most interesting.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  4. Much better than animal sacrifice, huh...

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Epics from A to Z
    MopDog - 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary

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  5. Wonderful to see how different cultures function.

    You're giving teaching moments.

    Your theme and posts also show your tolerance and acceptance for other cultures.

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  6. Just reading this post felt very peaceful to me. Gotta love the Buddhists!
    Katie @TheCyborgMom

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  7. I certainly enjoyed visiting the temples in Bangkok, so peaceful. I think 1 is false but 2 is true. I think you would need to do a bit more to earn a place.

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  8. Hi, Lee,

    Love your theme.... Always love to read about different cultures and their customs.

    The offerings are lovely. Nothing more simple and beautiful than flowers and pleasing scents....

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  9. We should all practice such wonderful 7 offerings!

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  10. Thanks. It was nice to know the explanations behind all those offerings.

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  11. I like how the offerings have meanings. I agree with Cathrina that we should all practice this. :)

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  12. I didn't know all women were supposed to become nuns in that tradition. I would guess celibacy is not part of the equation, as it is with Catholic nuns.

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  13. I didn't know all women were supposed to become nuns in that tradition. I would guess celibacy is not part of the equation, as it is with Catholic nuns.

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  14. It's very appropriate that the first offering is water since it's the first thing beyond air we need to live. Going with False and False again today.

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  15. A wonderful post, Loved it.

    Yvonne.

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  16. One of the things I really loved about Bali was all the offerings. You had to be careful not to step on them, though. They were everywhere--on the sidewalks and in shopping malls.

    The whole country smells of sandalwood incense. :)

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  17. Enjoyed reading about the seven offerings! The Chinese burn incense and offer food to their dead ancestors, as well as some form of paper (money). The idea, I believe, is that in the afterlife souls just move to a different plane but still live like we do. Have a great weekend!

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  18. This was one of the most interesting posts yet to me. I love the idea of the offerings and it's so interesting to learn what each one means.

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  19. Neato:) Well, aren't you the world traveler:)

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  20. why did you live in Laos? With family? On business?

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  21. Things do go well in sevens. And 1 is false and 2 might be true (not as certain about that one).

    Untethered Realms

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  22. It's great to hear that women have power! I do all the finances in my family and I'm not financially savvy, so that's a little scary.

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  23. The offerings are fascinating -- thanks for sharing.

    Yvonne

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  24. I hear water is so precious over there. To sacrifice it is a big deal. :)

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  25. As someone who lives in a third world country I can attest to the amount of incense and perfume Egyptians use. They don't normally use antiperspirants or deodorants, and things can get ripe fast. Their perfumes and incense is very strong, far stronger than what we're used to in the west. Was it the same in Burma? Thanks for sharing the lovely Buddhist traditions! :)

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  26. I love this! To give gifts and the meaning behind it is so enriching-we could all learn from this style. OK so I say False to the first but true to the second:)

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  27. This is one of my favorite posts of the AtoZ so far. I've always seen pictures of offerings, but never knew what they were meant for. THANK YOU!

    You can find me here:
    ClarabelleRant

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  28. Hi Lee - Offerings .. I hadn't realised the significance of Offerings per se ... and I need to come back and re-read this properly ... fascinating .. and about the answers to the N for nuns ... cheers Hilary

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  29. I had no idea. Thanks for sharing.

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  30. This sounds like a lovely way to live! What a powerful ceremony.

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  31. I found the offerings to be quite touching.

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  32. The 7 offerings are a very warm and gracious custom.

    Julie

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