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Bodhi Day

This Bodhi Day, celebrate and reflect with your families using these resources.

Bodhi Day is celebrated on 8 December every year and is often a time for quiet and reflection. Celebrations can include time spent studying the Dharma (the teachings of Buddha), chanting sutras (threads of religious teaching passed down through the generations) or holding services to commemorate Buddha's achievement of enlightenment.

Buddhists believe that Siddhartha Gautama - who is the founder of Buddhism and more widely known as Buddha - achieved enlightenment through meditation on this day. The literal translation of 'Buddha' means 'the awakened one'.

During Bodhi Day celebrations, it is traditional to eat a simple meal of rice and milk. Some families with young children also bake cookies in the shape of the Bodhi Tree.

Interesting facts about Bodhi Day

  • On Bodhi Day, families enjoy Jataka tales, which are stories Buddha told about his past lives.
  • The Bodhi Tree itself is located in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, in India. It’s also known as the Mahabodhi Tree, or the Bo Tree.
  • In Japan, Bodhi Day is called Rohatsu which means the eighth day of the twelfth month.

The Chinese version of Bodhi Day is known as Laba.

Activities for children with vision impairment

Take a mindful moment

Meditation can be used to help anyone feel calm and forget their everyday cares. Buddhists try to be ‘mindful’ which means be aware of the present moment and the world around you. Here are three activities you can try as a family to help practise mindfulness:

1. Create a sensory surprise bag

Gather items of different texture from around the house and put them in a paper bag. Have your child reach in and explore the items through touch. You can support your child to be mindful by prompting them with questions such as:

  • Does the item have edges?
  • Does it feel soft and fluffy?
  • Does it feel rough or smooth?

Ask your child to describe what they are feeling, what they think the item might be and ask them to describe what they think it’s used for.

2. Practise yoga

Yoga encourages taking time to breathe deeply, engage in body awareness, reduce stress and practise patience and emotional regulation.

You can find different yoga resources on YouTube. British Blind Sport has some great videos on the First Steps and Active At Home pages of its website.

3. Use your ‘Spidey Sense’

Encourage your child to switch on their ‘Spidey Senses’ - the super-focused way Spider-Man keeps tabs on the world around him by using smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch - to understand their own environment.

This is a fun way to let your child pause and focus on the presentand open themselves up to the different information their senses can bring in.

It’s also a great mindfulness exercise for everyone as it encourages observation and curiosity through an appreciation of all the senses.

Bake Bodhi Tree cookies

Bodhi Day cookies are traditionally heart-shaped and symbolise the leaves of the fig tree where the Buddha achieved enlightenment.

Follow our simple recipe below or substitute it with a family favourite. Check out Building your child's confidence in and out of the kitchen before you start for hints and tips for baking with children with vision impairment.

What you will need:

  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 100g caster sugar
  • Two eggs
  • One tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g cornflour
  • 300g plain flour
  • Baking paper
  • Heart-shaped cookie cutters

How to make Bodhi Tree cookies

  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Carefully beat in the eggs, one at a time, then add the vanilla extract.
  3. Mix in the cornflour and plain flour until the mixture comes together into a dough.
  4. Place the dough between two pieces of baking paper and roll out to a thickness of about 6mm. Chill for 30 mins.
  5. While the cookie dough is chilling, heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6.
  6. Peel off the top layer of baking paper and use the cookie cutter to cut out heart shapes. You may need to guide your child’s hands to put the cookie cutter in the right place.
  7. Transfer the cookies to a second large baking sheet lined with baking paper, spacing them 2cm apart (you may need two sheets).
  8. Bake for 7-10 mins or until golden brown. Leave to cool.

Enjoy your Bodhi Tree cookies with a glass of cold milk and take a mindful moment as you reflect on the different sensory experiences that baking can bring!

Websites for children:

There are many websites which explore Buddhism and Bodhi Day in a child-friendly way. Here are some links to get you started: