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Explaining the history of Bodhi Day

Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day to commemorate the day Siddhartha Gautama experienced enlightenment.

CLIVE, Iowa — Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday commemorating the day Buddha, sometimes known as Siddhartha Gautama or Shakyamuni Buddha, experienced enlightenment. 

According to teachers at Pure Land of Iowa in Clive, Gautama first experienced enlightenment after meditating underneath a Bodhi tree for 49 days. 

Gautama used meditation as a means for identifying the root cause of suffering, and for identifying a way to liberate oneself from it. 

One teacher at Pure Land of Iowa said "Enlightenment has been deeply connected to the natural world right around us. It's the natural world that wakes us up."

He added, "our job is to slow down so that the natural world can take us in," suggesting enlightenment dims when non-human living species struggle to survive. 

In Japanese Buddhism, Bodhi Day is traditionally celebrated on Dec. 8. 

There is no single day marking Bodhi Day, though, as Buddhists in Southeast Asia, China and Tibet often celebrate the holiday in May. 

In many cases, Buddhists celebrating Bodhi Day observe the holiday through temple services, meditation, or special chants from Buddhist texts. 

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Some Buddhists choose to make a pilgrimage in their lifetime to the original Bodhi tree where Gautama experienced enlightenment, bowing to the tree upon arrival so as to bow directly toward the source of enlightenment.

Pure Land of Iowa has several teachers who host meditation at their temple. 

One, who is from central Iowa, is currently on a spiritual journey in Nepal, the original birthplace of Buddha.

He shared a special video with Local 5 about his time in Kathmandu, the capital and most populous city in Nepal. You can watch that below!

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