Rohatsu - the eighth day of the twelfth lunar month, is a time when Zen Buddhists mark the date of Buddha's enlightenment. It starts on the 1st of December and ends on Bodhi Day - the 8th of December. In the seven days leading up to the day of rohatsu, monks will spend their time in silent and intensive meditation. This period of intensive meditation is known as 'sesshin'. This practice is the culmination of all the work that has been done previously in that year. (The last sentence is not quite how I would express the meaning of sesshin.)
Tomorrow here at Throssel we will be celebrating the Festival of the Buddha's Enlightenment and over 50 guests are expected. The weather has been blustery with warnings of snow on high ground. We've certainly had our share of wind and heavy rain fall to-day, no signs of snow. Hopefully there will be some photographs of the festival altar published here tomorrow.
Ceremonies celebrating events in the Buddha's life mark our year and give it shape. As do the monastic sesshins. The winter sesshin of Rohatsu started at Shasta Abbey today, ours starts on the 13th and ends seven days later on the 19th. The other sesshin is in the spring and traditionally ends with the Buddha's Birth Festival, Wesak.
Please join us tomorrow by lighting some incense and offering it at your altar, if you have one. If you don't, light some anyway and let the perfume permeate your home and know the Buddha's Enlightenment permeates all time and space.
Fun Facts about Bodhi Day for children. Wikipedia on Bodhi Day.