The Meaning of Padma

Padma (“lotus” in Sanskrit and Tibetan) is a central symbol of Buddhism and is one of the most important images of the faith. Because the lotus grows in the mud but blooms untainted above the surface, it symbolizes those who overcome ignorance to attain enlightenment. The heart of a lotus flower is made up of many equal-sized compartments, each one holding a seed. Thus, Padma also symbolizes the equality of all beings.

The Purpose

The purpose of the Padma Award is to give a Girl Scout practical guidance in achieving the spiritual aspiration made in the Girl Scout Promise and Law and to allow her to develop into a woman whose views and actions in life stem from the highest of Buddhist thought. The Padma Award program offers every Girl Scout participant the opportunity to learn about Buddhism, Buddhist teachings and the Buddhist way of life from the perspective of Girl Scouting.

The Padma Award program allows a girl to: 1) attain understanding and faith in the Buddha, 2) learn the Teachings, and 3) practice the harmonious Buddhist way of life in the spirit of the universality of all living things.

The Award

The Padma Award is a four level program for Girl Scouts (Brownies, Juniors, Cadettes, and Seniors/Ambassadors). Upon completion of the requirements,

  • The Brownie will receive a Padma medal in chocolate brown and a personalized certificate of completion.
  • The Junior will receive the Padma medal in bronze and a personalized certificate of completion.
  • The Cadette will receive the Padma medal in Silver and a personalized certificate of completion.
  • The Senior/Ambassador will receive a Padma pin and a personalized certificate of completion.

The Brownie, Junior and Cadette Padma medals consist of a pendant, ribbon, and bar. The pendant depicts the lotus blossom; the ribbon is the color of purple wisteria; and the attached crossbar is inscribed “Padma”. The Senior/Ambassador Padma pin is silver and depicts the lotus blossom.

The Padma Award may be worn on the official Girl Scout uniform, either on the badge sash below the membership stars or on the right side of the vest, level with the membership pin.

The Award may be presented to the Girl Scout by her temple or troop in recognition of her spiritual growth as shown by her fulfilling the Award requirements.

Who is Eligible?

Any registered Girl Scout, from Brownie through Ambassador, may earn the Padma Award. She need not be a member of a troop or a member of a temple. However, she must work with a qualified instructor who will help her earn the award. The awards are specific to individual levels of Girl Scouting. The program of study should take place while the Girl Scout is registered at the appropriate level.

How to Earn the Padma Award

  1. Reach an understanding with your parent(s) and instructor on your decision to earn the Padma Award. Note: Study for the Padma Award must be under close supervision of Buddhist clergy or a qualified layperson appointed by the Buddhist clergy. The instructor must be approved by the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting (“Committee”) before instruction begins. If you are not a member of a temple, we recommend that you contact a local temple and work with its clergy or instructors to fulfill the award requirements.
  1. Instruction may begin once your instructor is approved and you have submitted your application and fees.
  1. Suggested periods of study:
  • Brownie 6 hours over 60 days
  • Junior 16 hours over 4-6 months
  • Cadette 30 hours over one year
  • Senior/Ambassador 30 hours over one year
  1. After fulfilling all of the requirements for the Padma Award to the satisfaction of your instructor, submit the Completion Form to the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting. The Padma Award medal or pin and certificate of completion will be mailed to whomever you designate for presentation at an appropriate ceremony.

Administration

The Padma Award Program is administered and supervised by the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting. The Girl Scouts of the U.S.A recognizes the Buddhist Churches of America as the sponsor of the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting.

For further information, contact the Chairman of the National Buddhist Committee on Scouting at bcascoutinginfo@gmail.com.