April 8, 2012 - Easter and Buddha Day

For Christians, today is Easter Sunday. Many people celebrate by going to church, having family gatherings, and eating together. But we also link the holiday with spring things like bunnies and chicks and eggs. Decorating eggs and having Easter egg hunts are two of my favorite Easter customs!

For more on Easter, check out this and this other post.

For Buddhists, today is Buddha Day.

April 8 is the traditional birthday of Gautama Buddha, the founder of the religion, who was thought to have lived in India from 563 B.C.E. to 483 B.C.E. (Actually, scholars have some evidence that he may have been born in May, rather than April, but since the date is uncertain, why not stick with tradition?)

Whenever it was, the Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha, the son of a king of people who lived on the border of present-day Nepal and India. The prince lived a very luxurious life, sheltered from disease and death, poverty and misery. However, when he was a young adult, Siddhartha set off to see more of the world and was amazed by the amount of suffering he saw. He wandered and observed and thought deeply about life and death and suffering. Eventually he began to teach that suffering was caused by human craving, and that nirvana (an end to suffering) can be achieved by right views, right speech, and right action. The Buddha taught an eightfold path of “right” things—in other words, how to best live life.

Buddhism spread from India to Central and Southeast Asia, China, Korea, Japan, and eventually worldwide. Today it is estimated that 350 million people practice Buddhism.

Also on this date:

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