A votive deposit or votive offering is one or more objects displayed or deposited, without the intention of recovery or use, in a sacred place for broadly religious purposes. Such items are a feature of modern and ancient societies and are generally made in order to gain favor with supernatural forces. Some offerings have apparently been made in anticipation of the achievement of a particular wish, but in Western cultures from which documentary evidence survives it has been more typical to wait until the wish has been fulfilled before making the offering, for which the more specific term ex-voto may be used. Votive offerings have been described in historical Roman era and Greek sources, although similar acts continue into the present day, for example in traditional Catholic culture and, arguably, in the modern day practice of tossing coins into a wishing well or fountain. The modern construction practice called topping out can be considered as an example of a votive practice that has very ancient roots.
In Buddhism, symbolic offerings are made to the Triple Gem, giving rise to contemplative gratitude and inspiration. Typical material offerings involve simple objects such as a lit candle or oil lamp, burning incense, flowers, food, fruit, water or drinks.
Contemporary Western practitioners often find the making of offerings to be occasions for gracious mindfulness. Within the traditional Buddhist framework of karma and rebirth, offerings also lead to:
These offerings often act as preparation for meditation.