And the answer: figs.
Underneath a fig-laden bodhi tree known as the Bodh Gaya in Bihar, India, former prince Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and became the Buddha. According to the Ceylon Chronicles, this tree is the world's oldest human-planted living tree.
As the founding principles of Buddhism dictate, Siddhartha Gautama abandoned his life of luxury to ponder a simpler one, and did so under the massive roots of the bodhi tree along the Falgu River in Gaya, India. After 49 days of unbroken meditation, Siddhartha Gautama experienced Nirvana, or enlightenment, and became a Buddha, or “Awakened One.” For 2,500 years, Buddha’s enlightenment has served as the central tenant of the Buddhist faith.
Did you know?
Yesterday was Bodhi Day! Each year, Bodhi Day is observed in many mainstream Mahayana traditions, including the traditional Zen and Pure Land schools of China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The holiday quietly yet profoundly celebrates the ways of enlightenment originally sought by the Buddha in the form of meditation and reflection. Even if you’re not Buddhist, you can still enjoy the holiday by reading up on some of the principles of Buddhism, or watching documentaries on the Buddha.
Many Mahayana and Zen Buddhists’ traditional celebrations of the holiday consist of thoughtful reflection and acts of loving kindness. Many Buddhist households will have Ficus trees in their homes, decorated with multicolored lights and strung together with beads to symbolize the interconnected nature of humanity. While the lights depict the many different paths one can take to reach enlightenment, the three jewels of Buddhism are also proudly displayed: the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The lights are turned on during the evening of Bodhi Day, and again each evening for the 30 days following the sacred day.
Learn more about Bodhi Day here.