On Bodhi Day, Buddhists celebrate the awakening and enlightenment of Siddhartha, who became Buddha in the 6th century BC, after reflecting on the meaning of life while seated under the Bodhi Tree (the tree of awakening). Celebrations take place on Rōhatsu (‘eighth day of the twelfth month’ in Japanese), when Buddhists pray and meditate on the cycle of rebirth, the Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths as Buddha once did. It is traditional for Buddhists to eat a meal of rice and milk to represent the first meal Buddha is believed to have eaten after achieving enlightenment.
Buddhists often decorate their homes with colourful decorations to symbolise the many different ways to achieve enlightenment. Enlightenment is further symbolised by the lighting of candles for thirty successive evenings. Another traditional decoration is three hanging ornaments of Buddha, Dharma and Shanga: these represent the Three Jewels of Buddhism. Bodhi is the name for the tree under which Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment; it is a type of fig tree, scientifically known as Ficus religiosa. To honour this, many Buddhists have a small Ficus at home, which they decorate with coloured lights and beads joined together with string to symbolise that all things in the world are united. An alternative to a living tree is to use a statue of a Bodhi Tree decorated with origami leaves or a small figurine of Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi Tree.
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