The ritual to greet the spirits begis with Singwanrye. While the ritual is in progress, resounding music and dancing are performed to pray for national security and royal prosperity.
The Choheongwan enters the spirit chamber and burns incense three times to invite the ancestral souls from Heaven. Then he receives wine slowly three times in a cup, which he pours into a hole, called Gwanjatong. on the floor, and offers white ramie to the altar. Ritual foods offered to the altar are prepared with utmost care to befit the most important national ceremony. The food vessels, a total of 63 kinds, carry dark bronze color, and philosophical meanings deriving from theories of "yin and yang" and "the five elements."
Among the vessels are Byeon, orbamboo vessel, Bu, wooden vessel, and more than 60 kinds of bronze vessels Because it is believed that the spirits do not take any food stained even a bit, ritual foods are prepared and offered with utmost care. Incense signifies spirits, and it is believed that burning incense brings in ancestral spirits. Incense burns itself, letting off fragrance and burying its ashes in the ground. Therefore, those of the posterity wish their prayers to reach their ancestors through the smokes of incense.
Cheonjorye is the ritual for table setting. The raw livers and blood of cow, pig and sheep are mixed with mugwort and burned. Then the sheets of white paper covering the foods and wine are removed. By offering these food items and animal produced on the ground, the posterity hope that they could expect blessings from Nature and their ancestors for national security and bumper crops.
The rituals to entertain the spirits folllow with Choheongrye first. During the Joseon Dynasty days, kings usually attended the rites in person to assume the most important role of Choheongwan. Nowadays, an officiant, designated as Choheongwan, assumes the role and offers the first cup of wine. After the first cup is offered, the Daechukgwan recites the prayer paper. In this first cup of wine, the officiants place their burning wishes for blessings from their ancestors for natiional prosperity and royal security.
When this ritual is in progress, the officiants prostrate to bow four times, and respective Chukgwans, who recite prayer papers, and Heongwans, who offer cups, are posted in each of the 19 spirit chambers to hold similar rituals in accordance with the procedure of Confucian teachings. In the past, crown princes or prime ministers served as Aheongwan to offer the second cup of wine, but nowadays an officiant is predesignated to assume the role.
The Jongheongwan offers the third and final cup of wine to complete the rituals during which the ancestors enjoy the food and wine carefully prepared by the posterity. The ritual for Eumbok, when the Choheongwan takes the food and wine offered to the ancestors, well depict how the ancestors' blessings are passed over to the posterity.
The last ritual in Jongmyo is that for sending off the spirits. It is assumed that the ancestral spirits, that descended for Jongmyo Jerye, leave with the smokes from the burning of pye (white ramie), offered to the altar, and incense. It appears as if the blessings of the ancestors, satisfied with warm entertainment they enjoyed in Jongmyo Jerye, are contained in the smokes hanging over Jongmyo.