I can understand what you are saying. I attend at a Theravada Center which is populated by Asian monks. Here are some of the things (Form and Ritual) that I see no purpose in, that seem contrary to the dhamma as explained in the sutta pitaka.
- Offerings to the Buddha (light, water flowers)
- Pirith Chanting (some say in Pali, "I worship the buddha, the relics, the shrines") [why worship form?]\
- Giving of dhamma names when requested [why give name to not-self as if it was self...they already have 2 Pali names to describe the composite...nama and rupa]
- Tying on blessing bracelets and bhikkhus chanting blessings [why bless that, which is not-self, simply to continue the illusion of self in the blessed??]
- Once a month, it turns into a South East Asian cultural festival where people who profess to never meditate or study except during the monthly meeting, come there to tell the weekly loyal crowd of devout dhamma practioners; who meditate daily, and study suttas daily, about teachings of the Buddha. We listen patiently while they tell us about how they never meditate because it takes too long, or how they came to give Dāna, or to give merits to a deceased relative, then we listen to their foggy recollection of the dhamma from back when they were a child and used to listen to the dhamma, They stand up like "
Listen here, I am real Buddhist raised in Buddhist country with Buddhist name, and you are Western so I will teach you because you could not possibly understand.... So we listen to them speaking foggy recollection of the dhamma. Or we answer questions politely about what we think about all the native-country food that they brought. It is good practice, to listen to them and not say anything...Then I understand what Ajahn Chah said about people coming to his Wat on tour buses to gain merit, and then leaving before he could even speak to them or teach them anything..they just came to make an appearance and thought they gained merit in doing it. Same thing where I attend, they come and gain merit in the form of arriving, and they come with hands empty of dhamma, and leave with hands empty of dhamma. They give a donation of dana to the Center, and want their name pasted on a board on the wall, so that everyone can see how much they gave...Mr and Mrs. so and so gave...$xxxx.. But we simple Western people, we come there and throw money in the box all the time every week to keep the place open, and we remain nameless, no one knows which of us gave Dāna to sustain, or how much. That is our understanding of Dāna.. but in name and form, the home-country people excel in showing how much they gave and making sure their names are on the wall like big heroes. While we local people are just whatever..we don't care if anyone knows what we did for the Center, just as long as it remains there.
If we local Western people volunteer labor to build a new meditation center, or throw $2 or $5000 dollars cash in the box, we don't ask for recognition on a wall or an engraved brick with our names, we just do it anonymously because that's our understanding of Dāna, that we give it selflessly without expecting anything in return, not even recognition of having given a penny . But the home-country people who show up once a month, are all about name and form and recognition of the merits they've earned.
Once I figure out why I go along with all this, that's my dhamma lesson. I go there because there is no other Theravada center anywhere within driving distance of my home. I do everything the Bhikkhus want us to do, except the chant with worship to Buddha, relics and shines. I will do the Pali chants paying "homage" to the triple gem, but not the ones that say worship..the canonical Buddha never told anyone to worship anything, but to investigate...