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For Buddhism, devotion does not mean submitting oneself to the will of a God or taking refuge in an external Saviour, but an ardent feeling of love and affection (pema) directed towards the Teacher who shows the way to freedom from suffering.Such an attitude inspires the devotee to follow the Master's teaching faithfully and earnestly through all the hurdles that lie along the way to Nibbana.And owing to the fear, awe, and respect that characterize man's religious psychology, such acts assume a solemnity and a sanctity of their own.
It is to warn against this that the Buddha has categorized them, under the term silabbata-paramasa, as one of the ten fetters (samyojana) and one of the four types of clinging (upadana).
A composite unity consisting of a number of subordinate ritualistic acts may be called a ceremony.
Such observances have become inseparable from all organized religions.
Many verses of the Theragatha and Therigatha, poems of the ancient monks and nuns, convey feelings of deep devotion and a high level of emotional elation.
Although the canonical texts do not indicate that this devotional sensibility had yet come to expression in fully formed rituals, it seems plausible that simple ritualistic observances giving vent to feelings of devotion had already begun to take shape even during the Buddha's lifetime.
To the contrary, they are an integral part of the living tradition of all schools of Buddhism, including the Theravada.