Nearly 1,700 international delegates, including top leaders and most venerable monks from 112 countries and territories, are present at the 16th United Nations Vesak Day Celebrations or the Vesak Festival 2019 held in Vietnam on May 12-14.
International representatives, dignitaries attend Vesak Festival 2019 in Vietnam on May 12. Photo: VGP
Taking place in Tam Chuc pagoda in the northern province of Ha Nam, the three-day festival bring leaders, monks, and participants from many parts of the world in one of the most sacred events joyously celebrated by Buddhist devotees around the world.
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the event's opening ceremony. Photo: Vietnamplus
Vietnamese top leaders namely Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has attended the festival, which is hosted in Vietnam for third time, including the first in Hanoi in 2008, the second in Ninh Binh in 2014. About 10% of Vietnam's population practice Buddhism.
Most Ven. Phra Brahmapundit from the International Council for Day of Vesak at the opening ceremony. Photo: Vietnamplus
The event also marks the attendance of many world top leaders, including Myanmar’s President Win Myint, Nepal’s Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, India’s Vice President Venkaiah Naidu, and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations Amina J. Mohammed.
The International Council of United Nations Day of Vesak (ICUNDV) continuously organized this program every year for the world Buddhist community since 2004.
Most Ven. Thich Thien Nhon, head of the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha at the opening ceremony. Photo: Vietnamplus
On this occasion, hundreds of messages from most venerable monks and experts from all parts of the world have been sent to the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (NVBS), showing shared celebrations and wishing a successful event.
All participants and those caring for the event have conveyed a common message that aims to cultivate compassion, moral responsibility, tolerance, and wisdom.
Occasion for spreading Buddha’s teachings
Lumbini, situated in the Rupandehi district of Nepal, was inscribed as "the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha" in UNESCO's World Heritage List in 1997. Photo: World Heritage Collection
Vesak or full moon day on which Buddhists celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and the passing (entering into Parinirvhna) of Lord Buddha.
Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said in a message sent to the NVBS that Vesak is a sacred occasion to millions of Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike around the world can reflect on Buddha’s life and draw inspiration from his teachings.
The event will foster a greater understanding of Lord Bhuddha’s message of tolerance, empathy, and humanism for the contemporary world, Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said in a message.
Myanmar’s President Win Myint said that the annual celebration of Vesak is an extraordinary event that the world Buddhists contribute common endeavors to promoting the culture of peace and the Buddha’s teachings of loving kindness and living in peace and harmony, and mutual understanding among peoples of different cultures, faiths, and civilizations in this highly diverse world.
Most Ven. Phra Brahmapundit from the International Council for Day of Vesak said this great event is aimed at creating understanding among the Buddhist communities worldwide which in the end would bring peace and stability to the world at large in the time of digital society and technology disruption along with numerous challenges.
Her Majesty The Queen Mother of Bhutan Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck said this year’s theme of celebrations “Buddhist Approach to Global Leadership and Shared Responsibilities for Sustainable Societies” is coined at no better time than today when the world is going through unprecedented period of excessive human greed.
Ponchai Palawadhammo, president of the World Alliance of Buddhists (WAB) in Thailand, said that this year's event helps people find a universal method to solve global problems, such as uncertain security, natural disasters, economic headwinds, diversity of culture, bad environment and suffering from living together cause unorganized societies and world.
The annual celebrations are for meaningful living in the light of Buddhist philosophy with four sublime states namely Meththa – unconditional love, Karuna – compassion, Muditha – sympathetic joy, and Upekha – equanimity, according to Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Ranil Wickremesinghe.
He believes that the sublime states should be practiced to attain a noble life and that claims the way out of all conflicts and destructions prevalent in the world.
In a time of growing intolerance and inequality, the Buddha’s message of non-violence and service to others is more relevant than ever, said António Guterres.