Bodhi Day 2022: History, Significance and Celebrations

Bodhi Day is a major Buddhist festival which celebrates the day on which it is believed that Gautama Buddha achieved enlightenment

Bodhi Day is a major Buddisht festival it commemorates the day on which it is believed the Gautama Buddha(Shakyamuni) achieved enlightenment. 

It generally falls on the eighth day of the 12th month of the lunisolar calendar. In Japan, the day is known as Rohatsu and was moved to its current date of 8th December when Emperor Meiji began the westernization of Japan and introduced the Gregorian calendar. 

The enlightenment of the Buddha is among the most significant events in Buddhist history, and it's an event commemorated annually by many Buddhists. English speakers often call the observance Bodhi Day. The word bodhi in Sanskrit and Pali means "awakening" but is often translated into English as "enlightenment." 

Event Bodhi Day
Date December 8, 2022
Day Thursday
Significance The day commemorates the day on which it is believed the Gautama Buddha(Shakyamuni) achieved enlightenment
Observed by World wide

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Bodhi Day History: 

The story of Bodhi Day began six years before the Buddha's awakening. Growing up, Siddhārtha Gautama was a rich prince in Nepal who lived a life of luxury. He knew nothing of suffering.  However, upon discovering the pain and suffering of those less fortunate than himself, he abandoned his life of comfort and left to become a monk, relying only upon the kindness of others. He was just 29 years old when he left. Gautama studied under six different teachers, and forced his body to survive under desperate conditions, but he was resolute in his goal of understanding the universe in which we live and the roles we all play.  At one point he only allowed himself to eat one grain of rice per day. 

Eventually, Gautama realized that he had gone from one end of the spectrum to the opposite; beginning with a life of extreme luxury and ending in one of extreme pain and hunger. He recognized that his current state of being was unsustainable and that he would not reach enlightenment if his body perished. It was then that he chose the middle ground. He sat himself down underneath a great fig tree and resolved to meditate until he understood the great truths of our universe. Then he meditated in Bodh Gaya, India for a continuous streak of 49 days until he achieved enlightenment as per Buddisht traditions. 

From here, there are many different accounts of what happened. Some believe that the demon king Mara came to distract Gautama and take him off the path towards enlightenment. Some believe that Mara is the personification of negative thoughts that distract us from what really matters in this life. In the standard collection of scriptures observed in the Theravada Buddhist tradition- the Buddha describes his enlightenment in three stages which goes like in first stage Lord Buddha realized that he was born and reborn on earth multiple times, in the second watch Buddha unearthed the Law of Karma and importance of living by eightfold then in the third stage Buddha finally discovered the four noble truths and became the 'awakened one'.   

While it is impossible for us to know exactly what occurred from day 1-49, in his own words the Buddha describes the experience as such: "My heart, thus knowing, thus seeing, was released from the fermentation of becoming, released from the fermentation of ignorance.  With release, there was knowledge, 'Released.' I discerned that "Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done.  There is nothing further for this world." And thus he became The Buddha. And today Buddhism is one of the world's largest religion and this event holds a great importance for the religion and hence this day is celebrated greatly by Buddhists around the world especially by Mahayana Buddhists. 


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Bodhi Day Significance: 

Bodhi Day is primarily celebrated by Mahayana Buddhists and Zen Buddhists.  Theravada Buddhists celebrate the Buddha's enlightenment on Vesak Day. Bodhi Day is celebrated on the eight day of the 12th month each year. Similar to other Buddhist holidays, Bodhi day is meant to be a day of thoughtful reflection and acts of loving kindness. Lord Buddha is the most important figure in the religion and that's why celebrating his enlightenment is an important thing for Buddhists. So Buddhists commemorate this day by meditating, studying the 'dharma' ('universal truth or law'), chanting sutras (Buddhist texts), and performing kind acts towards other beings. 

Bodhi Day is the celebration of the day the Buddha reached enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. While many people believe the day is called Bodhi Day because of the tree, this is false. The actual tree was a large and sacred peepal tree (a species of Banyan fig) located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India.  It eventually became known as the Bodhi Tree because that was the place where Siddhārtha Gautama reached enlightenment and became the Buddha ("The Awakened One"). In Pali and Sanskrit the word bodhi directly translates to "awakening" however it is frequently translated to "enlightenment" as well. 

Lessons from Bodhi Day are simply priceless as it teaches us to find meaning in our lives and to live out the best parts of ourselves. Gautama Buddha would have never been enlightenment if he didn't question his purpose. So this day teaches to have a or look for a purpose in your life. We all live our lives limited to ourselves only but it will be much better to live it for others as well and making a difference in the society and this is the essence of Lord Buddha's life which is highlighted on this day and people are inspired to apply those principles in their life as well. 

Everyone needs spiritual awakening and deepening to be able to live meaningful and purposeful lives. This day offers a platform to get a great deal of that deepening where we get to relax and take a moment to think about ourselves and others too apart from our daily and busy lives. As a result we get to see a whole new perspective for our life which might be missing in our daily busy schedule. One of the highlights of Bodhi Day is performing kind acts for other beings. This unites diverse people to do good things together and thus as a result making this world a much better place through our actions. 


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Bodhi Day Celebrations: 

Many Buddhist households will have Ficus Trees in their homes to decorate with multicolored lights strung together with beads. This is meant to symbolize how we are all interconnected. Three ornaments are, also, hung in order to represent the three jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Similarly, many families will hang multicolored lights throughout their homes as this is meant to show us the many different paths one can take to reach enlightenment. 

The lights are turned on in the evening of Bodhi Day, and again each evening for the 30 days following the sacred day. This is done to symbolize the time and effort Buddha spent meditating under the Bodhi tree in order to attain enlightenment. Bodhi Day itself is a single day, but Buddha did not reach enlightenment in only 1 day, so the 30 days of lights serve as a reminder of the time and dedication that was required of him to become enlightened. 

Many Buddhists will also start their day with the traditional meal of milk and rice, as this is what the Buddha ate after reaching enlightenment. Furthermore, some like to bake cookies in the shape of the leaves from the Bodhi tree in celebration and others celebrate through reading religious texts and chanting sutras. 

Most Searched FAQs on Bodhi Day: 

1. When is Bodhi Day celebrated? 

Bodhi Day is annually celebrated on 8th December. 

2. How do you wish someone for Bodhi Day? 

While there is no traditional greeting associated with Bodhi Day, it is appropriate to wish a friend or colleague who may be celebrating by saying "Happy Bodhi Day" or "Blessed Bodhi Day". 

3. What does Bodhi mean? 

Bodhi is a unisex name of Sanskrit origin, which means 'enlightenment,' 'awakening,' or 'understanding of true nature. ' In Buddhism, it's a spiritual name that refers to a state of nirvana and freedom from hate, greed, and ego.

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