Where To Place Your Buddha Statue

While the Historical Buddha (born Prince Siddhartha) never stated specifically where to place statues of the Buddha, there are many common practices that determine how to position sculptures of the enlightened one. This article focuses mainly on where Buddhist statues are placed in Thai Theravada Buddhism manner, common to Laos, Cambodia, and Burma.

the main Buddha statue in the Viharn of a temple in Thonburi, ThailandUse An Altar Table:

One should never place a statue of the Buddha on the ground inside a home, and in my home country of Thailand, we set our statues upon an altar table. These tables can be quite elaborate; they are often a set of small tables which stack upon one atop another so there are different levels on which to place multiple statues.

But if you don’t have an altar table, then something as simple as a small shelf that is cleared specifically for placing the statue will do as well. In rural areas of Southeast Asia, where a family might have almost no furniture, placing the statue on even just a small woven mat is acceptable. The important thing is that the Buddha statues are elevated above the person who is performing pooja – even if it is just the symbolic raising of less than an inch by placing the image on a thin mat barely above the floor.

Create A Pooja Room:

Whenever possible, it is preferable to have a separate room dedicated to performing pooja (Bucha in Thai language) that is kept clean and specifically for the purpose of prayer and making merit (tham boon). Not only does it help to create a “sacred space” in your house clear from items that might be offensive to the enlightened one, but it gives you, the owner of the house, a specific area to meditate, study the Dharma, or contemplate. A separate pooja room is as equally important for the roopa as it is for you.

With a separate room, you could include other objects, such as fresh flowers, as well as an area for burning candles and incense, which will be used for making offerings and venerating your Buddha image.

In Buddhist monasteries (called a Wat in Thai), there is a building known as the Ubot (Ordination hall, where the main Buddha images is venerated and where ceremonies for monks take place). There may also be Viharna (Wihan) where other statues are kept and the public is invited to listen to Dharma lectures. These Buddhist temples give us a good clue on how to treat our images with respect.

Make your room comfortable by having small meditation pillows, and be sure that you remove your shoes when ever you enter your pooja room.

Main Buddha statue in the Viharn at Wat mahathat, Phetchaburi, ThailandA Place For Veneration:

Understandably, not every house can have a room set aside for placing your statue, in which case you will want to make a special place in a multipurpose room where the statue may be treated with respect.

  1. Do not put your statue where someone’s feet will be pointing toward it. While pointing with your finger at a monk or Buddha image is bad enough, pointing with your feet would be even more offensive.
  2. Keep the area free of objects that might tower above the image. Do not place your statue near refrigerators or other items that are much larger or much taller.
  3. Refrain from placing your statue or any other Buddhist related symbol in the bathroom, or any room where acts of passion might take place (I think you know what I mean).
  4. Position the statue so that it will not hang under laundry lines, as you want to make sure that things such as undergarments and socks will not hover above the statue.

Placing Your Statue In The Garden:

Many people who are not Buddhists will buy statues to decorate their gardens. While we think you should at least try to learn about the Dharma before placing a figure in your garden, by following the above mentioned suggestions you will not be causing offense to Buddhists. Also, if you look at traditional statues you will see that the Buddha is ALMOST never seen touching the ground. Usually, the Enlightened One is depicted standing or sitting upon a lotus. Since you will not be using a wooden altar table in your garden, it would still be advisable to set up a small area where you can elevate the statue, if even just symbolically. One idea is to get several dozen small stones of more or less the same shape. Build up a little mound upon which to place your statue. Occasionally, you may wish to burn three sticks of incense or place three flowers in front of your statue as a sign of respect and veneration.

Comments

  1. In looking for bathroom decorating ideas, I came across a Zen website that had a 12″ praying Buddha sitting on an elevated part of the soaking tub with lucky bamboo plants along the side of the tube as well. Is this decorative idea considered being disrespectful?

    • Hi Leslie: thanks for commenting and for the photo.

      Yes, it would be offensive to most Buddhists to have a statue of the Buddha in the bathroom, regardless of the location. I hope you understand.

  2. Hi there The Buddha Garden.

    We (my husband and I) recently did our landscaping in the front our of home, and I purchased a sitting Meditating Buddha, that I adore! We had placed him on a tree trunk was was cut off and we planted some succulents in the trunk that my husband drilled some holes in it, it looks fabulous! Our neighbors are impressed with our work :)
    I always lit incense as offering, such sandalwood or patchouli.

    Please give me your opinion.
    Thanks,

    Sincerely,

    Emily

    • Hi there, Emily:

      I wanted to thank you again for the message and the photo. It is a very nice picture and I can understand why your neighbors are jealous. I guess the best way to describe what we do here is provide images of the Buddha for veneration (as opposed to decoration), so maybe I am not the best person to comment ;)

  3. Sandi Reeve says:

    Is it ok to have a large Buddha near a swimming pool? Ive seen this a lot in the past and wondered if brings prosperity?

  4. Hello me and my 2 girlfriends bought a pack of very small buddha statue 6 pieces each pack then we exchanged 1 piece as a gift I placed my buddhas in our room I have no altar but I placed it in the windowsill facing the door of our room is it ok? please reply coz i am worried tnx

  5. hello, my mum brought me a budda who looks like his laughing i have placed him on my high shef but it has other obects around him like paper, is this okay or shall i move him? x

  6. Devbrata Singh says:

    Hello,

    I have got one very nice Buddha sculpture, which I really wanted to have. Currently I have placed it in my bedroom on a glass shelf which is placed above my head. But I have red few blogs that its not good to place Buddha sculpture in your bedroom. As I have got it , so I want to put him in a place so that he can be happy and can raise harmony and prosperity in my home.
    I will be very thankful , if you can suggest me the direction and some more tips on placing Buddha.

    Awaiting your response
    Thanks & Regards
    Devbrata Singh

  7. Hi

    I have the smallest bedroom in the house and I’m the only spiritual person in the house. In the morning the sun is shining through the window, I have a small window ledge then my bed diagonal in front of the window. Is this a good spot to place my Buddha statue? Space is very limited unfortunately. Also strange question but… Are fish calming ie would it offend the statue to have a small tank in there. I’m asking this as some sites say this can bring bad karma??? I would really appreciate a response.

    Thanks
    Sian x

    • If the statue is going to be at the head of the bed and not the foot of the bed, then I guess that is ok, but I would strongly suggest getting a small mat or nice piece of cloth and placing the statue on top of that so it is “elevated” above the other items that you place on that ledge. Even if it is just symbolic.

      As for the fish tank, I don’t really know if it is considered good karma or bad karma – or neither.

      I would kindly suggest that if you do keep fish, then you treat them well and don’t ignore your responsibility.

      I felt bad when we were keeping fish because they weren’t allowed to be free. But then I realized that the life expectency for a fish that stays in a fish store is very short. If they have already been caught and are on display at a store, they won’t live very long.

      So I felt less bad (I won’t say I felt good, but I felt less bad) about taking one home and putting it in a large tank.

  8. Hello. I have a friend asking if it’s ok to place more than one Buddha statue in the same place in a garden. We’d be most interested to hear your thoughts. Thank you.

    • Hi there, and Thanks for the question.

      Yes, it would be fine to have more than one statue in more or less the same place.

      If you see an altar table at a temple – or in a Buddhist household – you will often see several tiers on the altar table, and each tier might have several statues placed upon it.

      At the local Buddhist temple near to my house, there is one tier that has, along with a statue of Siddhartha Gautama, a statue of Ho Tai (the Happy Buddha) as well as one of Lord Brahma.

      And while my local temple DOESN’T happen to have one, you will often see statues of Kuan Yin next to statues of the Buddha at the altar tables at numerous temples.

  9. Eva Keeling says:

    I have purchased a concrete Buddha head for my garden. I also purchased a lotus pedestal to place the Buddha head on in the garden. I want to know in which direction I should have the face of Buddha facing. As it is I started to face Buddha’s face to the south toward’s my house. Is this a advantage placement. I am not a Buddist but I love the calming look on it’s face. Eyes appear to be closed or looking down. I am looking for the peace and calming effect to come to my house from Buddha.

    • Hi there, Eva, and thanks for the comment.

      Unfortunately, I am not an expert at Feng Shui, so I hope that someone who is knowledgeable in it will be able to help give a suggestion or two. I only know that indoors many people like to put their statues in the back left corner as you come inside the front door. But I do not know so much for outdoors. I can tell you that it is best to place any images of the Buddha in an appropriate location that is neither towered over by anything, nor under any item that might be considered impure.

  10. Gwyn Morgan says:

    It should also be mentioned that when a residence has restricted amounts of space for a Buddha Table per se. Then a small ‘shelf” that can be placed high up on a wall is also acceptable and this is to be found in many homes such as apartments and single room accommodation which is prevalent in many parts of Bangkok .

    • Hi there, Gwyn:

      Yes, in Thailand these smaller shelves are known as “Hing Phra” and they often might not only have a statue of the Buddha on them, but they may have images of venerated Buddhist Monks on them as well.

      In Thai we often refer to these venerated monks by the honorific term “Luang Paw.” It is also common to see a small depiction of King Rama V – whether in the form of an amulet or in a painting / drawing – placed upon the “Hing Phra” as well.

      Offerings are made frequently to the images, whether they are statues of the Buddha or whether they are photos. The offerings usually consist of some water as well as some fruits or other foods. If it is bottled water, then typically the bottle is opened and a straw inserted (or the water is poured into a glass that is then put on the altar table or Hing Phra.

      If the food offering comes wrapped up (like a snack from a store), then the packaging is opened up. This is done to help facilitate the offering.

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