Yesterday, December 8, marked Bodhi Day. Bodhi Day is a holiday celebrated by members of the Buddhist religion. The holiday marks the day Siddhartha Guatauma became enlightened for the first time. Guatuama is the historical figure called Buddha.
After becoming enlightened, Buddha described the process using three different stages. The first stage involves performing the night’s first watch. During this night he discovered the cycle of rebirth and the existence of his past lives. This is when he realized he had been born and repeatedly reborn. The second watch happened when he stumbled upon the idea of the law of Karma. He also realized how important it was to live traveling along the Eightfold Path, a process that’s part of Buddha’s Four Noble Truths. It was during the third watch that he reached nirvana.
Tradition states that he had banned ascetic practices from his life. He vowed to meditate while sitting under a peepal tree and to continue meditating until he had pinpointed the root in which his suffering was found. He also vowed to sit there and meditate until he figured out how one could liberate themselves from suffering.
Bodhi day is observed through Mahayana traditions. Both Buddhist and Zen schools in Vietnam, China, Korea and Japan observe the day. The traditions and services included in the celebration vary between each sect of the Buddhist community. One thing all services have in common is that they all commemorate Buddha achieving nirvana. They also reflect on the meaning of his nirvana as it applies to their religion. Some people commemorate the holiday by meditating as much as possible. They also often study the Dharma and chant Buddhist Texts. Many also choose to perform acts of kindness for other people on this very important holiday. It is not uncommon for Buddhists to celebrate the holiday by consuming cake and tea while silently studying readings. Some decorate trees with lights, beads, and ornaments, celebrating unity.