How to set up a small buddhist altar

Written by marianne descott
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How to set up a small buddhist altar
An at-home Buddhist altar can be made from anything that inspires you. (Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Setting up a small Buddhist altar in your home is very simple -- it can literally be made from anything that inspires you, helps you concentrate, and centres you in your spirituality. Your altar is your own sacred place that you will go to meditate, so it should be beautiful in your eyes and made from objects that have deep personal meaning.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Candles
  • Incense
  • Buddhist statue or picture
  • Picture or statue of other saints or holy figures
  • Flowers
  • Prayer beads
  • Objects with personal meaning
  • Buddhist symbols or texts such as the Dharma wheel or a stupa

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  1. 1

    Find a quiet, peaceful and comfortable place in your home to set up your altar.

  2. 2

    Set up your altar in an east corner, if possible, which is symbolic in the Buddhist faith.

  3. 3

    Give your altar three levels, if you wish, which is how traditional Tibetan altars are set up.

  4. 4

    Make sure the space for your altar is clean.

  5. 5

    Collect items for your altar such as candles, incense, flowers and pictures or statues of Buddha. Symbolic Buddhist objects are also good to use, such as a Dharma wheel or a stupa (a dome-shaped Buddhist shrine), or even objects that have a personal meaning to you.

  6. 6

    Place your items in the space for your altar. If your altar has three levels, place any statues or pictures of holy figures on the top level and offerings for them on the bottom level.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean your altar regularly.
  • Feel free to change the objects in your altar or put fresh flowers or candles when needed.
  • Have your altar blessed by a spiritual leader, if possible.
  • Make your altar comfortable by putting a cushion or seat in front of it for meditation.

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