A Buddhist structure designed to commemorate either the original Buddha himself or a revered Buddhist saint. Stupas are generally built as a symbol of parinirvana, the final death and release from existence of the Buddha. Frequently containing relics, stupas are often sites of worship or pilgrimage. Those in India, where the oldest stupas stand, likely were modeled on earlier burial mounds and consist of a domelike structure with a sculpted umbrella at the top, surrounded by gateways symbolizing the boundary between sacred and earthly space. Stupas in other parts of Asia have taken various forms, from belllike structures to pyramids. In China, Korea, and Japan stupas are also known as pagodas. Pagodas are easily identifiable because they are structured as multistory buildings, with each story progressively smaller. Worship at stupas involves walking around them in the direction of the sun, while smaller models of them can be found in household and other small shrines.The Stupa – A 3-dimensional model of enlightenment – Buddhachannel .

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