Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington RoadPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139

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Placer Buddhist Church Mochitsuki - December 17

A Dharma Message by Rev. Matt Hamasaki

December 2023

In the month of December, we will be celebrating Bodhi Day, or the commemoration of the day that the Buddha attained enlightenment. This is important for us as Buddhists because the realization that Siddartha Gautama had about the reality of existence is what made him the “Awakened One” or Buddha and began to teach this understanding, which laid out the way for all of us to follow. Although he went through many different teachers and paths to find what he was looking for (the end of suffering), he could not find it. He was so devoted in his pursuit that he partook in incredibly difficult practices which emaciated his body. After many years of this, Siddartha learned he would not find the answer he sought this way. After leaving this path of penance, he went to the river to bathe himself, collapsing from exhaustion under a tree. A milkmaid, Sujata, gave him some kheer, an Indian rice porridge, that revitalized his body, and nursed him back to health. With his energy restored, he sat under the tree and meditated, resolving not to get up until he found the truth he wanted. And that is how he attained enlightenment.


An integral person to the story is Sujata, the milkmaid who nursed the Buddha to a state that he would be able to reach his goal. Her selfless actions are celebrated in different sects of Buddhism by serving kheer during their Bodhi Day ceremonies. Growing up, this was not the tradition at my temple, nor was it one that I was aware of at any others. Being someone who loves food (especially rice and porridge), I was intrigued as to what this kheer would taste like. Looking at recipes, traditionally it is made by cooking rice in milk with the addition of sugar or honey as sweetener, and cardamom as a spice which is often used in Indian cooking. Then it is topped with nuts and sometimes raisins. However, in Japan, it starts with okayu, a rice porridge, which milk is then mixed into and then the sweetening ingredients. Of course, there are also places that make it more traditional and have the cardamom, but it’s interesting to me to see how the culture has adapted this dish with foods that are more indigenous.


With that in mind, it’s wonderful to celebrate Bodhi Day in many diverse ways, keeping in mind the efforts of the Buddha and those that supported him with our hearts full of gratitude and our tummies full of delicious food.


Rev. Matt

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer.  It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80.  It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn.  The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963.  The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September.  The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups.  The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes.  See the church calendar for class times.