THE UNITED NATIONS DAY
750 Nguyen Kiem, P4, Q. Phu Nhuan, Tp. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
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marks UN Vesak Day preparations
Buddhist Monk Su Giac Hoang traveled
hundreds of miles away from his monastery to be part of the First
Preparatory Meeting of the International Organizing Committee (IOC) for
the United Nations Day of Vesak 2008 celebrations. He is excited that
Vietnam is hosting one of the world’s most important and biggest events
for Buddhists in Hanoi next year.
“All my monk friends and nuns are so happy
about it. It is a day of great significance for the Buddhist clergy and
the lay people. I came to serve and assist in making this event a great
one for Vietnam ,” said Su Giac Hoang.
The two-day preparatory meeting at the
Vietnam Buddhist University in Ho Chi Minh City drew over 30 IOC members
from more than 20 countries including the USA, Australia, China,
Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka and Cambodia.
The scene at the meeting’s venue, Vietnam
Buddhist University Campus, was marked by religious fervor and
meticulous planning yesterday. The enthusiasm amongst the young students
and IOC members was palpable, considering it is the first time that the
United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) celebrations are being held in Hanoi
, Vietnam from May 13 to 17 next year.
celebrations will commemorate the
2252nd Year of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the
United Nations in a resolution in 1999
decided to celebrate the thrice-sacred day of Vesak in the month of May.
The first celebrations were held way back in the year 2000 at the United
Nations Headquarters in New York . Subsequently, these celebrations have
successfully been held in Bangkok since 2004.
The UNDV celebrations over the years have
come to gain a huge significance amongst the Buddhists world over. The
event is seen as an opportunity to spread globally the Buddha’s message
of peace, love and harmony for the welfare of humanity.
The preparatory meeting for the big event
started with homage to the Triple Gem—the Buddha, the Dhamma and the
Sangha-- with all the IOC members standing up for prayers in deep
Ven. Dr. Dhammaratana, vice-chairman of the
IOC while thanking the Thailand Buddhists for making the event a great
success all these years stressed that without the support of the
Buddhist Sangha the UNDV would not have gained the stature it has today.
IOC chairman for UNDV 2008, Most Ven.
Professor Le Manh That, said there is immense support from the
government and other quarters for the celebrations. “The government is
warming up to the needs of the people. And spirituality is never far
from the hearts of the people. The celebration is a sign of growing
spirituality among the Vietnamese society.”
He further revealed things were progressing
well within expectations and the efforts of the preparatory meetings
were “very fruitful”.
Thich Nhat Tu, secretary IOC, highlighted
several plans of enormous scale being carried out to facilitate the
delegates’ comfortable stay at Hanoi , including the venue and event
arrangements. “Things are moving quite satisfactorily so far. Every one
is working very hard. After all it is a moment of rare honor for the
Another IOC member Venerable Thitadhammo
from Singapore said while there was a better religious sentiment
prevalent in Thailand compared to Vietnam , the Hanoi celebrations would
be useful from religious point of view. “We hope the event would help
awaken Buddhist religious feelings, particularly amongst the Vietnamese
youth,” he noted.
The awareness about the Vesak 2008
celebrations is catching up with the young and old alike in Ho Chi Minh
City and around the country, following reports in electronic and print
Bhikkhuni Lien Viet, a degree student at
the Vietnam Buddhist University in Ho Chi Minh City , says she has been
reading about celebrations in newspapers and along with her friends is
looking forward to the celebrations. “All my friends know about it. We
look forward to meeting and benefiting from interaction with the
Buddhists from across the world. The students here are quite excited,”
A 58-year-old library assistant, Tu Y,
finds her emotions too strong to hide: “People not only in Ho Chi Minh
City , but throughout the provinces are aware of it. They think about it
and are waiting for it.”
Dr. Elise De Vido, an IOC member from
Taiwan , said: “It is a great honor and challenge for Vietnam ’s
Buddhist circles to plan such a large and important international event.
However, I’m sure that the distinguished and hard-working members of IOC
and those in Vietnamese Buddhist circles will succeed in bringing real
breakthroughs for Vietnamese society, to communicate to Vietnam and the
world how Buddhism can contribute towards building a just, democratic,
and civil society. ”
The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha is busy preparing
for the eventual celebrations at Hanoi . The list of distinguished
Buddhist leaders chalking out plans at the IOC preparatory meeting
includes Most Ven. Thich Thien Tam ( Ho Chi Minh City ), Ven. Dr. Kammai
Dhammasami (UK), Most Ven. Ching Hsing ( Taiwan ) and Most Ven. Dr.
Thich Thanh Quyet ( Hanoi ).
Translating into Vietnamese by Vien Thong