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Enthusiasm marks UN Vesak Day preparations

By Dr. Manpreet Singh


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.


The celebrations will commemorate the 2252nd Year of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the Buddha Gautama.

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 reverence.


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 Vietnamese people.”



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 media.


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,” she said.   


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







Updated: 11-11-2007

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