|Traditional Sri Lankan island harvesting dance (Sri Lankan Friendship Association of BC/W)|
|Flower offering to statue (Pariyatti Press)|
Offerings and good actions made with the Buddha in mind) calculated to provide a basis for achieving nirvana, which is release from the otherwise endless Cycle of Rebirths (samsara).
|Avalokiteshvara, Weligama (AaA)|
|Sri Lankan kings showing hospitality to a "worthy one" (arhat), possibly the great Indian commentator Buddhaghosa, who worked in Sri Lanka, Kelaniya Temple, (denishc/flickr).|
|Tovil, "devil's dance," mask from Sri Lanka|
They derive their power and authority primarily through the superhuman power of the Buddha and also through the hosts of spirits who are, as it were, commanded by invoking the power of the Buddha or of the Three Guides: the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
- These three guides (not "refuges" as sarana is commonly mistranslated) are the Enlightened One, Enlightening Teachings, and Enlightened Disciples. Enlightened disciples, the arya-sangha, the "Community of Noble Ones," which does not mean all monastics, as the word usually denotes, but only those people, ordained or not, who have achieved at least the first stage of enlightenment.
|Colorful buddhas of the past, Dadagamuwa Raja Maha Viharaya, Sri Lanka (Malka001/flickr).|
The performance of these is also a means of expiation in the sense that the meritorious deeds have the effect of countering and hindering the operation of unwholesome karma (Pali kamma) previously acquired and inherited. Thus the range of merit is very wide.