Buddhist worship services vary among Mahayana, Theravada, and other Buddhist groups. Incense may be burned before an image of Buddha and is regarded among Buddhists as an aid to meditation. Buddhist scripture may also be recited. The goal of Buddhists is nirvana, or passionless peace. They believe that nirvana can be achieved through perfect self-control, unselfish- ness, knowledge, and enlightenment. The monks robe (Bonze), as well as his shaven head, identifies him as a man of religion. Among Theravada Buddhists only saffron (orange) robes seem to be worn, whereas monks of other Buddhist groups wear shades of white, brown, or yellow without reference to order or status. Groups other than Theravada seem to prefer the color yellow for worship services and religious or civic ceremonies. A string of 108 beads, each symbolizing one of the 108 desires to be over- come prior to enlightenment, is used by devout Buddhists while meditating. Gongs are used in Buddhist pagodas and homes for three basic purposes:
1. To announce the time of a service or meeting
2. To mark the different phases of a ceremony
3. To set the tempo for Buddhist chants Light from candles and lamps symbolizes Buddhas teachings leading to enlightenment.
Incense is burned as an offering in memory of Buddha and as an aid to meditation. Food, wine, and water are placed before the altars of Buddha and symbolize that the best is first shared with Buddha. Only the essence of the food is essential for purposes of worship, and the items themselves are later used as food by the worshipers. A Buddist bell and drum are located in or near the porch of the pagoda or temple. The bell is rung to announce a meeting or special event. The drum is normally sounded when dignitaries are present. Lustral Water or holy water is water which has been poured over a statue of Buddha under the proper conditions to attain Buddhas virtues. This water may be used to pour over the hands of a corpse at a funeral, the hands of a bridal couple at a wedding, or to sprinkle about a new house. Flowers are placed on family altars in the home and on graves, used during worship in the pagoda, and presented when calling upon the monks or older relatives.