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Bodhi Day is a religious observance for Buddhists

Bodhi Day is a religious observance for Buddhists.

Bodhi Day: December 8

Bodhi Day is a religious observance for Buddhists.

Bodhi Day is the Buddhist celebration of the Budhha’s awakening or enlightenment. It is celebrated on the 8th day of the 12th lunar month, Rohatsu in Japanese, it is observed on December 8 in Japan.

History of Bodhi Day

The young Indian prince Siddharta Gautama, 2500 years ago, sat beneath a fig tree with the purpose of finding enlightenment, he said that even though his flesh would fall from his bones and his bones crack, he would not get up until perfect enlightenment was achieve by him. He then begun an inner journey that led him to face his demons, to tame temptations and distractions of restlessness, anger, doubt or greed.

He first achieve a state of calm awareness, his mind was like a clear and still pool reflecting his inner thoughts and feelings. He started to reflect on his past, thoughts, words and actions. In the middle of the night he reflects on all living animals and humans, life and death. As dawn approached he understood cause and effect, that everything and everyone are connected, and that each ones action creates their own destinies.

He understood how ignorance of truth is the cause of greed and selfishness, and ultimately suffering. As a morning start appeared in sky, Siddhartha then contemplated the Wonderful Dharma and he became the Buddha, the awakened one. Bodhi Day is a celebration of Siddhartha’s efforts to attain Dharma, and his generosity and compassion to all as he shared the gift he received under the fig tree, 2500 years ago.

Bodhi Day Traditions, Customs and Activities

For Buddhists all over the world Bodhi Day is a day to remember Siddhartha and to meditate following his example. It is common to decorate houses with pictures or little statues of the Buddha under a fig tree to remember the day of his awakening. The decorations are full of colors, signifying that enlightenment has many ways to be attained.

Candles and lights are lightened on this day and kept burning, or turned on, for the next 30 days to symbolize enlightenment. Buddhists homes have a small fiscus tree that is decorated with colored lights and beads united with a string, this is to symbolize that all things are united. There are also three hanging ornaments that are to represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism: Buddha, Dharma and Shanga.

It is traditional to eat one meal of rice and milk, this was the same meal that the Buddha ate after his awakening, offered by a girl named Sujata. The most common activity is for Buddhists to gather and stay in prayer during the night, as Siddhartha did and reflect as he did in the cycle of rebirth, the Eightfold path and the four Noble Truths.

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