This elaborate transfer of merit is intended for all those who have died, especially in tragic or disturbing circumstances, or who are in unfortunate states of existence. Using a special altar, prepared with many varied types of food to represent the wealth and nourishment of the Dharma, the ceremony begins with drums, cymbals and gongs played to focus our attention on doing the ceremony with care. Scriptures and invocations of Avalokitesvara (the Bodhisattva of Compassion) are recited as an offering of compassion, and we call upon the Buddhas and Ancestors to assist us in our efforts to help all beings in need of merit. Vegetarian food offerings, particularly a deceased relative’s favorite dish, are welcome for placing on the altar.
The ceremony will be followed by a short Dharma talk and a potluck lunch.