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Q&A 42. Fruit and flower offerings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas

Q: Master Lu, when it comes to making offerings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, what type of fruit or flowers should not be offered?  Can we offer chrysanthemums, roses, or lilies?

A:

  • First of all, a Buddhist practitioner should make offerings of fresh fruit or flower according to their individual circumstances.
  • Ensure the flowers or fruits offered remain fresh. They should not be left on the Buddhist altar for longer than one week. If the flowers or fruits on the Buddhist altar are not fresh, remove or replace them as soon as possible. Do not leave any wilted flowers or spoiled fruits on the Buddhist altar even if there are no immediate replacements.
    Also, replace all the fruit on the offering plate. In other words, do not just remove the spoiled ones and leave the others on the plate.
  • Offer only one type of fruit on each plate.  Several types of fruit should not be mixed together on a single plate. However, different types of flowers can be offered together in one flower vase.
  • Offer fresh fruits only. Dried fruits and preserved fruits are not recommended.
  • It is best to offer fruits that are fragrant, such as apples, oranges, mangoes, pineapples, watermelons, etc.
  • Fruits such as bananas and peaches are not suitable for offerings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  • It is good to offer lucky bamboo to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
  • Flowers such as chrysanthemums, lilies, orchids, daffodils, peonies, carnations, etc. can be offered to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Roses are not suitable for offerings due to their thorns.
  • You can tell whether a flower is suitable for offerings or not by its Chinese name. For example, flowers such as peach blossoms or Japanese morning glories are not suitable offerings.
  • Do not place potted plants with soil on Buddhist altars.
  • In general, when offering lucky bamboo, place one vase on each side of the altar. It is fine to offer one, two, or three stems of lucky bamboo in each vase, but not too many. There is no quantity requirement for the offering of fresh flowers.

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