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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 Vietnam .

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 world.


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 revealed.


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 development.

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.







Updated: 11-11-2007

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