Happy Birthday, Buddha!

by bartlebytheater

In addition to International Roma Day, DABDay (follow @EnjoyBartleby for all the hot DABDay Action), and the feast days for some oddly named saints (Julie Billiart of Namur?), today is also Buddha’s Birthday!

Happy Birthday, Buddha!

Well, wait.  So, in some places (like Japan!) it is just Buddha’s Birthday, and you celebrate by bringing lots of fresh spring flowers to your local temple and by bathing the baby Buddha.  With tea.  That’s a statue though, not a literal baby Buddha reincarnated or anything like that, because bathing infants with tea is dangerous.  But not statues!

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That’s the statue.  Legend has it that upon his birth, Baby Buddha spoke, (!) took seven steps (!!), then pointed up with one hand and down with the other (?!).  The seven steps represent the seven directions (north, south, east, west, up, down, here) and the hands pointing in opposite direction represent Buddha’s mission on earth: the unification of heaven and earth.

In Nepal though, Buddha’s birthday is kind of just a general Buddha-day.  In addition to celebrating his birth and death, Nepalese Buddhists also celebrate his Enlightenment by eating milk porridge.  In what has to be the best Enlightenment moment of the past couple centuries, Buddha was sitting by a tree waiting for Enlightenment in the traditional way: by refusing food and water.  A local girl named Sujata saw that he was becoming extremely thin and malnourished, so she brought him a bowl of milk.  Buddha (well, at this time he was Siddhartha Gautama) drank and something pretty enlightening occurred to him: you can’t do anything without proper nourishment, even Enlightenment.

Nice one, Siddhartha Guatama!  I couldn’t agree more.  That is why I always eat a big breakfast before blogging.

So Happy Buddha’s Birthday!  Question of the day: How many steps and symbolic pointings did YOU do immediately upon your birth?  Answer in the comments section!

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