Circumambulation - Candlelight procession

The candlelight procession is carried out at Wat Palelai as part of the programmes for many of our annual activities. Some may wonder on the purpose of Candle light procession and what the meaning behind the activity. This section aims to illuminate part of these queries.


Circumambulation or candlelight procession is part of meditation practice - walking meditation! 

As the Buddha's teachings tells us that the highest honour we can show him is by practising his teachings, the candlelight procession is conducted during special Buddhist occasions, such as Vesak Day, so that we can at least show our respect to our teacher, the Buddha, by practicing a little bit of his teachings on these special days.

Hence, at Wat Palelai, we do walking meditation around the main shrine hall which houses the Buddha image.  When we do the walking meditation, we reflect on the qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma - his teachings, and the Sangha (community of monks and nuns) who have kept the teachings alive for us for 2,554 years after the Buddha's passing away, so that we can still benefit from it.  Collectively, they are known as the Triple Gems of Buddhism - hence we walk around 3 times and reflect on each of the Triple Gems on each round.  Also, we always keep the Buddha image to our right side as it is a gesture of respect to some one whom we respect very much - part of Buddhist cultural practice.

Candles, Flowers, and Incense

As we walk, we carry candles, flowers, and incense or joss sticks, because these are material offerings to show homage/respect to the Triple Gems - so we honour the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha by meditation practice and by making material offerings.  More importantly, these material offerings carry Dhamma significance too:

- The candles represent the Dhamma giving us wisdom/light to see into the reality of existence and how we can manage our existence.  Using the Buddha's Dhamma, to help us overcome the stresses of existence. We usually carry two candles as we have two eyes to see!

- The flowers reminds us that even though they look beautiful and fresh, after a while, they wilt and die. Our life is exactly the same, after we are born , we each have to face aging, illness, death. We remind ourselves that it is with Dhamma practice that we can break free from this unending cycle of birth, aging, illness, death.

- The incense or joss sticks remind us that the good smell of the joss sticks are taken everywhere by the wind, similarly, the reputation of people of good morals and compassion etc will be known in all directions,  even to the heavenly worlds.

Please click on the links for more information on giving (dana) or making the three buddhist offerings.

So, you can see that rather than being a meaningless walk around the temple compund, the circumambulation (the proper word for the  "candle light procession') around the main shrine has got very profound meaning to the person who is sincere in Dhamma practice.

Please click here to view photos taken at 2010 Vesak Day.

This photo set features the Candle light circumbulation conducted at Wat Palelai.