The Worship Road--Tibetan Kowtow

Updated: 2007-06-20 09:31

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The Tibetan kowtow is a ritual in Tibetan Buddhism. Palms put together, Tibetans prostrate themselves on the ground, with the head, arms, and knees down on the ground, and move forward slowly, following every step with a kowtow. This is the way to express their most honest hearts to the Buddha, as they walk from their hometown to Lhasa. During the long journey, they wear wooden kneepads to protect their knees and fur to ward off dust on their faces, and kowtow every three steps until they arrive in Lhasa.

A kowtow rule is strictly practiced by Tibetans. First, stand straight, put the palms together, lift them above the head, and stride one step. Keeping the palms together and moving forward, the devotees stride the second step. For the third step, they move their palms to the front of their breast, and, as they stride forward, make their arms parallel to the ground with the centers of their palms facing the earth. Finally, they fall on their knees, lie down on the ground, touch it with their forehead, and then stand up and do it again. While doing the kowtow, they are supposed to patter the Six Words Sutra without stopping.