At Qing Ming, we conduct the 100 Torma Offering Ritual [Tibetan: torma gyatsa], recognising the great importance that many of our members and the local community place on remembering the kindness of their ancestors and departed loved ones at this time.
Qing Ming is a spring festival rooted in the ancient and highly valued Chinese tradition of filial piety. Held in early April, it is a time to honour and remember the kindness of one’s ancestors. Families would visit cemeteries to pay respects at the tombs of departed relatives. Following custom, graves are cleaned and swept, and offerings such as food, flowers, incense and other tokens are presented in memory of the deceased. In Chinese Mahayana temples, it has also been a tradition to dedicate prayer ceremonies to the deceased on behalf of sponsors during Qing Ming.
The 100 Torma Offering Ritual is a practice of extensive giving where one can greatly benefit the deceased with whom we share blood ties, by clearing away their karmic debts. By dedicating this puja to them, they receive the merit that sweeps away their negativities and leads them towards favourable future rebirths.
About the Practice
The 100 Torma Offering Ritual focuses on the practice of generosity that comes from cultivating our compassion towards the sufferings of sentient beings, which result from karma and delusions.
The ritual involves making offerings to 12 types of guests, both the transcendental and the worldly. Two specific types of offerings are made: firstly, water is blessed and offered to the wealth deities White and Yellow Dzambhala. The blessed water is also offered to the hungry ghosts, intermediate state beings and the nagas.
Next, with a bodhicitta motivation, specially prepared dough balls are offered to the 12 types of guests, transformed into oceans of nectar that satisfies them. Offering to the transcendental guests invokes their blessings while offering to the worldly beings dispels harms and repays our karmic debts. The 12 types of guests are:
- Transcendental guests—lineage lamas, meditational deities, the 3 Jewels, Dharma protectors, sages and wealth deities
- Worldly beings—local deities, landlords, yakshas, interferers and spirits
- Sentient beings of the six realms
- Hungry ghosts
- Spirits to whom we owe karmic debts from our past acts of killing, beating and stealing
- Intermediate state beings
- Remaining guests, the most pitifully weak among the hungry ghosts
Through this act of giving, we accumulate the merit of practising generosity as well as the resulting benefits from having pleased the respective guests.
In addition, our Qing Ming Puja includes the practice of “Confession to the 35 Buddhas” where those attending can take part in making prostrations while reciting the names of the 35 Buddhas. In this way, participants can undertake purification practice on behalf of deceased loved ones and dedicate for their karmic obscurations to be swiftly eradicated.