This month a number of members of the Jewish faith will participate in the celebration of Loi Krathong (sometimes writen Loy Krathong). What, you have never heard of it? That is because it is not a Jewish holiday, but an annual celebration in many regions Thailand. However, it is celebrated by many individuals that identify themselves as JuBus (or BuJus) – Jewish Buddhists. In this article, I am not going to go into “how” someone can observe these two practices, instead, I will discuss the similarities between Judaism and Buddhism in a cultural sense as well as through the shared culinary practices.
Festival of Lights
Although the Loi Krathong is translated as “to float the box” in English, it is also known as the festival of lights. It is celebrated by placing a candle onto a floatable box and releasing it onto the water. The origin of the holiday is not known. Some believe it may have begun to honor a water deity. It may have begun after Nama Noppomas (the consort of the king) gave the king a leaf cup, and the king floated it down the river. Another belief is that the celebration has its roots directly from Buddha – and shows respect to him during his visit to the Naramaha River. Others celebrate in such a manner to show respect to their elders and/or ancestors. Using lights for celebration is also widely used in Judaism during many celebrations (e.g., Shabbat candles, Havdalla candles, Menorah, etc.) and mourning. [Fast Fact: The Hindu celebrate Diwali, which is their own “festival of lights” in celebration of the coming of the autumn.] It is also interesting to note that some of the floating boxes are made from bread so that when it “sinks,” it can be eaten by fish – which reminds me of the Jewish ritual of tashlikh, in which Jews cast out their sins by throwing bread into the water to be eaten by the fish.
Ten to Eight
Unlike the Christian and Muslim religions, which have their origins in Judaism, Buddhism evolved separately. Buddhism has its roots in the 5th century BCE, with a man named Siddhartha Guatma, who is the historical Buddha. He was the founder of a small sect of
At the core of both religions are a set of moral/ethical rules which all followers should follow. In Judaism, the Ten Commandments are at the heart of the Torah and Jewish law, which resembles the Noble Eight Fold Path of Buddhishm. Although they are worded differently, the tenets of both revolve around the idea that a person should respect themselves, and everyone (and everything) around them.
Ten Commandments: You shall 1) have no other gods before me, 2) make no idols, 3) not take the name of the G-d in vain, 4) keep the Sabbath day holy, 5) honor your mother and father, 6) not murder, 7) not commit adultery, 8) not steal, 9) not bear false witness against your neighbor, 10) not covet.
Eightfold Path: 1) Right Mind, 2) Right Intention, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Action, 5) Right or Honest Livelyhood, 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, and 8) Right Concentration.
How To Feed A JuBu
Although most dishes thought to be traditionally Buddhist are vegetarian, some sects do allow their members to eat meat (although there are restrictions). For instance, those in the Theravdan sect obtain their meals via alms, which may include donations of meat. However, many sects do include sutras (rules) that forbid the eating of meat so that no harm will come of living things. The sects in East Asia take this one step further and will not harm any living thing, so any plant that may be killed from consuming/harvesting it is restricted, such as root vegetables (potatoes, carrots, etc.). They also do not consume addictive foods and drinks, such as alcohol, drugs, and tobacco; however, caffeine, especially in tea is allowed because the “addiction” is mild, and the benefits of tea are great. Since all vegetables are kosher, most Buddhist dishes are de facto kosher as well (depending on what is added to the dish), with the most popular being stir-fried vegetables. [Fast Fact: Although vegetables are kosher, insects are not; so a vegetable that is infested with bugs, may be inedible if they are not cleaned out.] So if you ever have a dinner guest that is following Buddhism, break out with your favorite vegetarian dish.
Keep on cookin’
For this month I am providing an easy to make dish I prepared for last year’s charity Pasta Night. The sauce was served over wide noodles, but could also be used to add flavor to many other dishes and can be used almost as a satay. This month I present . . . . . Nam Chim Sate Nga (Thai Noodles with Sesame Sauce). I created this dish especially for serving at a large party, so you will need to adjust if making for just your family.
Directions and ingredients (serves 40)
- In a blender, mix together:
- 1 ¼ cups honey
- 1 ¼ cups smooth/creamy peanut butter
- 1/3 cup crunchy peanut butter
- 1 tsp coconut flavoring
- ¾ cup soy sauce
- ½ cup rice vinegar
- ½ cup + 2 tbs olive oil
- 1/3 cup sesame oil
- 4 tbs minced garlic
- ¼ cup ginger root
- 2 tbs red pepper flakes
- Taste, adjust, re-blend.
- Serve over your favorite pasta (wide noodles recommended)
“Festivals of Lights: Diwali, Hanukkah, and Loy Krathong” (prezi.com) @ https://prezi.com/2g8wxfjaynvs/festivals-of-lights-hinduism-judaims-and-buddhism/
“Fruits and Vegetables” (Chabad.org) @ http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/82683/jewish/Fruits-and-Vegetables.htm
“Is Buddhism Kosher?” (Tzvi Freeman: Chabad.org) @ http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/60122/jewish/Is-Buddhism-Kosher.htm
“Judaism & Buddhism Similarities” (Dr. Ursula A. Falk: JFubb.com) @ http://jbuff.com/c120210.htm