Length of average dating rituals
Certainly they would have done so shortly after the Parinibbana, as is amply demonstrated by the funeral rites themselves, according to the testimony of the Maha-parinibbana Sutta.
The Buddha also encouraged a devotional attitude when he recommended pilgrimages to the four places that can inspire a faithful devotee: the places where he was born, attained Enlightenment, preached the first sermon, and attained Parinibbana (D.ii,140).
The core doctrines of Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, dependent arising, etc., often proved too abstruse and elevated for the ordinary populace to apply to their own religious lives.
In the case of Buddhism this has happened in every country to which it spread, and Sri Lanka is no exception.
These supplementary forms of religious activity have arisen out of a natural need to augment the more austere way followed by the world-renouncing disciples.
Such an attitude inspires the devotee to follow the Master's teaching faithfully and earnestly through all the hurdles that lie along the way to Nibbana.
The Buddha did discourage the wrong kind of emotional attachment to himself, as evidenced by the case of Vakkali Thera, who was reprimanded for his obsession with the beauty of the Buddha's physical presence: his was a case of misplaced devotion (S.iii,119).
Ritualistic observances also pose a danger that they might be misapprehended as ends in themselves instead of being employed as means for channelling the devotional emotions into the correct path.
The Buddha often stressed the importance of saddha, faith or confidence in him as the Perfect Teacher and in his Teaching as the vehicle to liberation from the cycle of rebirth.
Unshakeable confidence (aveccappasada) in the Triple Gem — the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha — is a mark of the noble disciple, while the Buddha once stated that those who have sufficient confidence in him, sufficient affection for him (saddhamatta, pemamatta) are bound for heaven.