In the world of Buddhism, an important day of celebration is December 8th – The 8th day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. This is Bodhi Day.  The day celebrates when the Buddha attained enlightenment in 596 BCE.

The story: Siddhartha Gautama was a prince in Nepal. Although he was sheltered by his family, he questioned why there was old age, sickness, and suffering. When he was 29 he left his home to seek the truth of life.

He lived a life of asceticism but he found no answers.  Unable to find answers to his questions, he vowed that he would sit under the Bodhi tree and wait.  He fasted and meditated.  After one week, on the eighth day, he realized the four noble truths which became the principals of Buddhism. One: Life is suffering; Two Suffering is caused by craving and aversion; Three: Suffering can be overcome and true happiness (Nirvana) can be attained; Four: The Noble 8-fold Path is the path which leads to the end of suffering.  From this point forward, he was referred to as the Buddha – The Enlightened One

Celebration:  In Buddhist homes, you will sometimes see a fiscus tree decorated with multi-colored lights and strung with beads.  The lights are multicolored because there are many paths to enlightenment.  The lights are turned on each evening for 30 days.  A candle is also lit to represent enlightenment.

A meal of rice and milk is important because according to Buddhist legend, this was the first meal offered to the Buddha to help him regain strength.

Let us rejoice with our Buddhist friends, grateful for their gifts of meditation practices, of silent moments, and of awareness of the joy of balance.

Photo: Bodhi Tree by Danie Becknell / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0