This is a simple explanation of the meaning behind Buddhist devotional practices one see in shrines and temples, such as bowing, prostrating, lighting incense and candles, offering of flowers and fruit, which is common in all traditions.
While it is difficult to imagine Buddhism without the Buddha image or Rupa, it was not until about 500 years after the passing away (Parinirvana) that the practice of making images of the Buddha started. Since that time, Buddha images have been the object of Buddhist devotion and identify for over 2000 years, acting as the inspirational focus and the means for devotees to express their reverence and gratitude for the Buddha’s Dharma or Teachings.
The reasons for the Buddha image on the shrine are:
Some days, we may feel agitated, angry or depressed. When we pass by a shrine in our homes or visit a temple, and see the peaceful image of the Buddha, it helps us to remember that there are beings that are peaceful and we can become like them too. Automatically, our minds settle down.
Buddhists pay respect to the Buddha to show their gratitude to Him for showing the way to Enlightenment and liberation by:
One manner of prostration as observed in a Theravada temple (e.g. temples of Sri Lankan, Thai, Burmese traditions)