Ta Mo's Day

Ta Mo's Day

Fifth day of 10th lunar month
Ta Mo (or Bodhidharma) was a sixth-century Indian monk who founded the Ch'an school of Buddhism in China, known in Japan as Zen Buddhism. Information about his historical existence is quite sketchy. But he is said to have believed that the Law of Buddha could only be understood through contemplation, without the aid of books or rituals. According to legend, he spent nine years meditating in front of a cave wall, during which time his legs fell off. The Japanese, to whom he is known as Daruma, have a legless doll, constructed in such a way that no matter how it is placed on the ground, it always returns to a sitting position.
There is another legend that Ta Mo cut off his eyelids in a fit of anger after falling asleep during meditation. When they fell to the ground, his eyelids took root and grew up as the first tea plant. This legend is the basis for the practice among Zen monks of drinking tea to stay awake during meditation. Members of the Ch'an (or Zen) sect of Buddhism observe the fifth day of the 10th month as Ta Mo's Day. People in Japan customarily give Daruma dolls to those who have worked hard to achieve a goal.
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 1102
DictWrldRel-1989, p. 111
EncyRel-1987, vol. 2, p. 263
RelHolCal-2004, p. 221