The purpose of a shrine is to provide us with a stable anchor for day-to-day devotionals. Some people seem to want or need this more than other. Typically, devotees carrying baggage from Protestant, Judaic and Islam cultures feel that icons are idols and may have body-mind troubles to reconcile. However, a home shrine is not essential to walk the Way. Most devotees however find great joy in their shrines and home altars.
Shrines take central places in homes, Wayist centers, gardens and buildings. Shrines are often erected in public places, on roadsides, home gardens and in nature along trials. In India, for example, it is not uncommon for a city to have 5,000 shrines erectd by individuals and groups.
Typically, a shrine contains some element that distinguishes it as such. It may have only the Wayist mandala, or a small Avalalokitesvara statue. In certain cultures a simple ribbon on a tree, or a scarf hanging from a branch indicates a special place of worship for some people. Shrines erected in public are typically available for all people and may be maintained by one or more families.
It is considered a special spiritual service to the community to fund, erect and maintain a public shrine. Many devotees feel that this public service is good Karma Yoga.
Wayist shrines are typically not elaborate or expensive to make and maintain.
Most devotees have a daily ritual for attending to soul business around the shrine.
One may burn incense and/or a candle. Some place fruit or flowers, even some food from the main meal as a sign of hospitality, inviting spiritual beings to feel welcomed in our lives and our spaces. These are small little things humans need to anchor their devotions and mystical lives. Mysticism has forever been spiced with symbolism, and it can hardly be any other way
In Cambodia, where the average family income is barely $400 per month, every home has a shrine or two. Some are made of bamboo, some of a tin cut open and aestetically fashioned. Many families hope to one day buy one of those grand, expensive shrines costing $30 to $50.
Handmade thangkas and ceremonial scarves are common items used on shrines.
See our Devotional Store for home and devotional center shrine and altar ideas.