One of Shumei’s most valued principals is that of gratitude. The appreciation of God’s gifts is the foundation on which a happy and fortunate life is built. One of the most touching ceremonies that express our gratitude to God is the offering ceremony. Many Sampais open with this observance and it is performed at all Shumei Centers at least once a day. It involves gifts being placed on offering tables set up before the Scroll of Light as tokens of appreciation.
These ceremonies usually form the opening of particular celebrations, such as the first Sampai performed at a Shumei Center each day or those honoring such special occasions as Monthly Sampais, anniversaries, and memorials. The offering can be simply placing carefully prepared rice, water, and salt before the Scroll of Light or they can be more elaborate and choreographed presentations, involving an offering team and music.
Generally, the items offered are foodstuffs, sometimes elegantly arranged on special trays called sambos and presented in a formal procession by an offering team. Some of the gifts placed on the offering tables have special significance. Occasionally, rounds of mochi, which is a dense and sweet cake, are placed in tree layers before the Scroll. From top to bottom, their colors are pink, white, and green, representing fire, water, and earth. Fire stands for the dominion of God, white for the realm of the spirits in which our ancestors dwell, and green for the world in which we live. Thus, gratitude is expressed to God, to the spirits, and to all of nature.
Offerings can also be conducted privately in one’s home as part of an individual’s or family’s daily prayers.