Lantern Attendant

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Names of the Three Fasts
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Lantern Rituals for the Destruction of Hell
Rituals of Purification and of Sacrifice to the Ancestral Souls
Rituals of Purification and Salvation
Rituals of Scattering Flowers and Communicating with Spirits through Lanterns
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Lantern Attendant
Scripture Attendant
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Origin of the Title of Lantern Attendant ( 侍燈Shideng )

The Lantern Attendant is a managing role played by a Daoist ritual attendee during Daoist rituals. No records remain about the post of Lantern Attendant in early Daoist rituals, for these were rather simple. Lanterns were used widely in people's life and in Daoist rituals until the Southern and Northern Dynasties. The role of Lantern Attendant appeared as late as the Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings ( 《洞玄靈寶齋說光燭戒罰燈祝願儀》 Dongxuan Lingbao Zhai Shuo Guangzhu Jiefa Deng Zhuyuan Yi ) compiled by eminent Daoist Lu Xiujing (406-477) of the Southern Dynasties. The title of Lantern Attendant wasn't used widely until the Tang and Five Dynasties. After the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, due to the popularity of lantern rituals, this role became more important and eminent. Today, Daoist Offering Altars ( 齋壇Zhaitan ) still have Daoists especially in charge of lanterns.

Functions

The scripture Regulations and Penalties for the Use of Lanterns and Candles in Pervasive Mystery Numinous Treasure Offerings says, Lantern Attendants should "prepare the lanterns in accordance to rules, and always keep them burning bright. Report to the master in stormy weather and then put out the lanterns. Do not be neglectful out of carelessness or laziness." The book Preaching Commandments for Assigning Tasks during Golden Register Great Fasts ( 《金籙大齋補職說戒儀》 Jinlu Dazhai Buzhi Shuojie Yi ) of the Tang and Five Dynasties requires Lantern Attendants to prepare lanterns for the nights, to "carefully manage lanterns and candles, always keep every place bright, and put out the lanterns in the morning. Keep the ritual space and the Offering Altars bright and magnificent." The Commandments of the Mystery Metropolis ( 《玄者律》 Xuandu Lu ) postulate that a Lantern Attendant failing in his task would be imposed a fine of incense or oil.