C2B: Are there sacraments in Buddhism?

There are no sacraments in Buddhism in the sense they are found in Christianity.

There are, however many parallels as you can see below. While most usually involve monastics, ordination is the only one that must.


Pregnant mothers will often go to a monastery and ask monks to chant a special blessing authorized by the Buddha, known as the Angulimala Paritta. Newborns are often brought to a monastery as soon as possible to have monastics chant a blessing.


When a person is very ill, they may request monastics to visit and give a sermon and chant protective verses. This was common even in the time of the Buddha. The sick person and there family may also chant on their own.


Monastics do not officiate at weddings, but couples will often go to a monastery before or after the wedding to receive advice on lay life and to listen to blessing chants.

Going for refuge and taking the precepts

Traditionally, going for refuge to the Triple Gem and undertaking the five precepts is considered conversion to Buddhism. Often lay people will recite them repeating after a monastic but it can also be done alone. This is often done every time one goes to a monastery.


After a family member or friend dies, people will often arrange an alms-giving and share merit with the departed. This is traditionally done after seven days, one month, three months, and at the year anniversary, although the schedule is not important.

Entering the monastic order

There is an official procedure established by the Budddha for novice ordination (leaving lay life) and high ordination (officially becoming a member of the monastic community. This is explained in detail in the Vinaya.


Do I have to change my name If I become a Buddhist?

There is no need to change your name when you become a Buddhist. Most people do not. Even monks and nuns didn’t change their names when the Buddha was alive.

If you would like to have a traditional Buddhist name, you certainly can. Some names are are simply names of famous disciples such as Visakha (chief female benefactor), Khema (chief nun), Ananda (the Buddha’s attendant), and Upali (Vinaya master). Some names are wholesome qualities such as Khanti (patience), and Samadhi (concentration).

If you would like help choosing a Buddhist name, most monks and nuns would be happy to help you.