Mrs. Hanamoku’s Bodhi Day Rice and Milk

Bodhi Day rice and milk

Below is Mrs. Hanamoku’s recipe that we enjoy every Bodhi Day! This recipe makes two to three servings as pictured in the chawan above (about as large as an “oatmeal bowl”).


  • 4 C whole milk
  • ½ C rice – Basmati, Jasmine, or Japanese Sticky rice.
  • ½ C sugar
  • 2 tsp cardamom powder

Cooking Steps

1. Wash and soak rice for 30 minutes.

2. Bring milk to a boil.

3. Add drained rice to milk on medium heat. Cook until rice is cooked through, leaning towards the mushy side. Not too mushy since there is a bit of cooking left to go.

4. Add sugar and continue to cook until mixture thickens. Keep stirring during this stage.

5. Add cardamom powder and cook for 5 more minutes.

This desert can be served warm like oatmeal or cold like custard. I prefer it warm like oatmeal since I have this after I return from an really cold time outside doing my Bodhi Day thing. It’s nice to make enough to have it again cold for desert at the end of your first day of enlightenment 🙂

However, if you want to live hard-core ascetic, leftover rice and milk heated, nothing else, over the stove is the way to go.

Why this Rice and Milk?

Most accounts I’ve read on the Internet of Bodhi Day state that Siddhartha Gautama was presented with a meal of rice and milk before he went into deep meditation under the Bodhi Tree. However, The Eternal Fishnu says that The Buddha received the meal upon his awakening from the meditation on Bodhi Day. I believe The Eternal Fishnu’s version as he was there, and it seems to make a little more sense to me anyway.

More importantly, the accounts that state Siddhartha received the meal before his seven days of meditation says it invigorated him for that meditation. To me, that would have disrupted his resolve to find Enlightenment. He really was in such bad shape, physically and spiritually, that he was right at the door, rock bottom, nothing else to lose. An empty mind with nothing to cling to.

It seems more appropriate that this rice and milk meal symbolizes a literal breakfast (breaking of his long fast) than merely nourishment before undertaking the long meditation. It’s not enough to make much of a difference over the seven days. The meal, so simple, so unassuming, is a perfect gesture to the awakened brand new Buddha.

Bodhi Day

If you’re new to Bodhi Day, below are links to two series of Bodhi Day posts to give you an idea of what Bodhi Season is all about.

The next Bodhi Days are the secular, December 8, 2022, and the Lunar, December 30, 2022. I explain the difference in the post, Two Months to the Secular Bodhi Day. In a nutshell, the secular Bodhi Day is set at Dec 8 and the lunar Bodhi varies from year to year since it’s based on the lunar calendar.

Lastly, the Hanamoku household has a third Bodhi Day! It’s the anniversary of the day one of our cats, who we named Bodhi, came to live with us – December 27.

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