Bodhi day is observed as a holiday and celebration that commemorates the day when Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment. The day is celebrated with different names internationally in Buddhism-following countries. According to the popularly known folklore, Gautama Buddha sat under a peepal tree and meditated for years to find the cause of misery in human life and solutions to it. Many Mahayana Buddhism following devotees and countries celebrate this day.
Devotees reaffirm faith, compassion, and kindness towards fellow humans and spend the day praying and wishing others. Generally, the day is celebrated on December 8 globally as people believe that it is the same date when Gautama Buddha got enlightened in 596 BC, but the celebration date still may vary country wise.
History of Bodhi Day
Siddhartha Gautama, who later in life became the founder of Buddhism, was born in Lumbini (which is now in Nepal) to a noble family of Kshatriyas in 563 BC. His father Suddhodhana was the king of the Shakya clan and he gave Siddhartha an extremely lavish and comfortable childhood.
Siddhartha once went on a tour of his kingdom and saw people suffering from poverty and disease which intensely impacted him. At the age of 29, he left his family and kingdom in search of truth and solutions to these miseries. For 6 years, he travelled and meditated, and then finally in Bodhgaya, he attained enlightenment.
Bodhgaya is a village in Bihar. The place is visited on special occasions like Bodhi Day, Buddha Purnima, and more by devotees and tourists from across the globe. Bodhgaya is also home to the popular Bodhi tree under which Buddha meditated.
Teachings of Gautama Buddha
This enlightenment further led to the creation of 4 Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path which forms the basis of Buddhism. The 4 noble truths mentioned by Gautama Buddha are:
Dukkha. Life is a suffering
Samudaya. The cause of suffering is greed or desire
Nirodha. End to craving can end sufferings
Magga. The path to liberation
The eightfold path which Gautama Buddha shared among his disciples comprises the following principle values:
Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.
Major Attractions and Facts of Bodhi Day
1. Bodhi Day Celebrations
Bodhi Day is celebrated around the globe with similar zest and zeal as it is in a Buddhist country. During this day, people often decorate a fig tree to make it resemble the Bodhi tree under which Gautama Buddha meditated. People also prepare rice and milk dishes along with special cookies to mark the celebration.
In Japan, Bodhi Day is known by the name Rohatsu which means the 8th day of the 12th month. The Buddhist monks perform special prayers on this day.
The Chinese version of Bodhi day is known as Laba. The date of the festival in China also varies as people there observe it in January.
How to Reach
Bodh Gaya is a village in the state of Bihar. It is considered a prime Buddhist pilgrimage site. It is located at a distance of 1,081, 2,069, 1,720, 472 km from Delhi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Kolkata respectively. Here are three main ways via which you can reach the venue for witnessing celebrations of Bodhi Day.
The nearest airport to Bodhgaya is Gaya airport in Bihar. It is located about 10 km from the Bodhi day festivities. It is an international airport that serves the state of Bihar. It also operates flights from Thailand, Sri Lanka, Japan, Vietnam, and Myanmar. From the airport, you can take a taxi or other public transport to get to the location.
Here is flight information of the airport from various major cities in India.
Delhi - Board Air India, IndiGo, Vistara, Spicejet flights from Indira Gandhi International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.6,000
Mumbai - Board Air India, Go Air, Spicejet from Mumbai Airport. The airfares start from Rs.8,000
Kolkata - Board Spicejet, Air India, Go Air flights from Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. The airfares start from Rs.2,000
Chennai - Board Spicejet, Air India, IndiGo from Madurai airport. The airfares start from Rs.8,000
The Gaya Junction, located in Gaya, is the closest railway station that operates frequent trains from all major cities of the country. It is about 17 km from Bodhgaya. The railway station came into operation about 141 years ago, that is, in 1879. It also has all the modern facilities like computerized reservation facility, food plaza, bookshop, cafeteria, retiring rooms, etc.
Delhi - Board Poorva Express from New Delhi Railway Station and deboard at the Gaya Junction
Mumbai - Board Kolkata Mail from C Shivaji Mah T and deboard at the Gaya Junction
Kolkata - Board Kolkata Rajdhani from Howrah Junction and deboard at the Gaya Junction
Chennai - Board MS Gaya Express from Chennai Egmore and deboard at the Gaya Junction
If you live at a nearby location, travelling by road is a viable option. If you have your own vehicle or want to hire a cab/taxi to reach the Bodhi Day celebration venue, following route information can come in handy.