Popular Buddhist Ritual in Contemporary Hong Kong

Shuilu Fahui, a Buddhist Rite for Saving All Sentient Beings of Water and Land


  • Yiu Kwan Chan University of Lancaster




Shuilu fahui, ritual


Shuilu fahui is a Buddhist rite for saving all sentient beings (pudu) with a complex layer of ritual activities incorporating elements of all schools of Chinese Buddhism, such as Tantric mantras, Tian Tai rituals of asking for forgiveness (chanfa), and Pure Land reciting of Amitabha’s name. The ritual can be dated to the Tang Dynasty (c. 670–673 CE) and has been one of the most spectacular and popular rituals in Chinese Buddhism. Shuilu fahui is still performed in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, and continues to be very popular amongst such Chinese communities. This study is an aid to understanding how Chinese Buddhism is practised by monks and nuns in Hong Kong, and how they interact with lay Buddhists through Shuilu fahui. This rite constructs and represents a unified religious world that contains many important and profound religious meanings, and it continuous to ­develop in order to accommodate the various demands of people in Hong Kong.

Author Biography

Yiu Kwan Chan, University of Lancaster

PhD student at Lancaster University


Ch’en, K. 1973. The Chinese Transformation of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Fa Yu. 1970. Fajie shengfan shuilu pudu dazhai shenghu yigui huiben. Hong Kong: Fa Yu Temple.

Fo Guang Shan. 2002 Chinese–English Buddhist Dictionary. Taiwan: Fo Guan Shan.

Stephenson, Daniel B. 2001. ‘Text, Image, and Transformation in the History of Shuilu fahui, the Buddhist Rite for Deliverance of Creatures of Water and Land’. In Cultural Intersections in Later Chinese Buddhism, ed. Marsha Weidner, 30–70. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press.

Teiser, Stephen F. 1988. The Ghost Festival in Medieval China. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Welch, Holmes. 1967 The Practice of Chinese Buddhism 1900–1950. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press.




How to Cite

Chan, Y. K. (2008). Popular Buddhist Ritual in Contemporary Hong Kong: Shuilu Fahui, a Buddhist Rite for Saving All Sentient Beings of Water and Land. Buddhist Studies Review, 25(1), 90–105. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.v25i1.90