THE UNITED NATIONS DAY
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Grand celebrations planned
for UN Vesak Day in Hanoi
The United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) in
Hanoi next year will be marked by grand celebrations, with more than
4000 Buddhist leaders, scholars and State dignitaries from over 100
countries participating in the event at the National Convention Center.
It is the first time that the UNDV celebrations are being held in
Commemorating the Birth, Enlightenment and
Passing Away of Buddha Gautama, the UNDV celebrations since they started
in year 2000, have gained huge significance amongst the Buddhists world
over. The event is viewed by Buddhists as an opportunity to spread the
Buddha’s message of love, peace, non-violence and compassion across the
The First Preparatory Meeting of the
International Organizing Committee (IOC) for the UNDV 2008 celebrations,
held at the Vietnam Buddhist University campus in Ho Chi Minh City ,
meticulously chalked out the details for the eventual celebrations in
Hanoi , due from May 13 to May 17 next year.
The two-day preparatory meeting was
attended by over 30 IOC members from more than 20 countries including
Australia, UK, France, Italy, USA, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia,
Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Russia and India. After
the meeting the IOC members met the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha leaders
followed by a visit to the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City’s
Chairman Le Hoang Quan at his office.
Chairman Le Hoang Quan said Vietnam
realized the responsibility and honor of hosting this United Nation’s
program and assured the Committee of strong support from the government.
He said Buddhism always has, and at present in particular, is helping
greatly in nation building efforts.
Briefing media about the large-scale
preparations underway, IOC secretary, Ven. Dr. Thich Nhat Tu said the
celebrations would include spiritual retreats by the world-famous Zen
Master Thich Nhat Hanh and academic conferences consisting of six
workshops. “World Buddhist leaders would deliberate over the problems
faced by the humanity today. The problems like war, conflict, poverty
and violence will be discussed, while seeking a Buddhist perspective and
contribution towards building a just, democratic, and civil society,” he
IOC also agreed to hold, a major highlight
of the celebration activities, demonstration of Electronic Cultural
Atlas Initiative (ECAI), a digital approach to presenting information
about Buddhist heritage and traditions. Professor Lewis Lancaster of
California University from the USA will hold a symposium on ECAI. This
digital atlas is one of the major innovations in presentation of digital
library or archival data. It would promote interaction amongst various
Buddhist countries. The atlas would record 4000 Vietnam Buddhist sites
and 8,000 Buddhist sites of China .
IOC chairman, Most Ven. Professor Le Manh
That, also the Deputy President of Vietnam Buddhist University in Ho Chi
Minh City , revealed that the celebrations would emphasize Buddhist and
cultural values of Vietnam . “Vietnamese traditional cultural shows and
Buddhist cultural exhibitions will be organized at conference venue as
well in the Temples ’ premises in Hanoi . There will be religious
chanting from different Buddhist traditions. Special activities like
cultural fairs, food fairs and cultural activities will also be held for
the local people’s participation,” he revealed.
The world’s distinguished Buddhist scholar
and master Venerable Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhi from the USA would deliver an
opening keynote speech on the main theme of the celebrations. The UN
Vesak Day ceremonies will be opened by the President of Vietnam.
A special speech will be delivered by the
Prime Minister of Vietnam during the closing ceremony and he would host
a dinner for the 150 distinguished Buddhist leaders and scholars.
Noble Laureate Professor Amartya Sen is
expected to speak on Buddhist perspective on economics and welfare
A candle-lit procession for world peace and
progress will be organized after the closing ceremony, joined by all the
delegates and local people.
The UNDV celebrations over the years have
become a very significant event among the Buddhists all over the world.
The event is organized by the Buddhists and the UN to promote human
values of social justice, peace and human welfare.
United Nations in a resolution in 1999 had
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.