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History of UN Day of Vesak Celebrations

ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF THE UNITED NATIONS DAY OF VESAK

I. The United Nations (UN) Day of Vesak at the United Nations Headquarters

The UN Day of Vesak Celebration is internationally a cultural and humanistic festival of the United Nations International Organizing Committee. The established process of this celebration commenced in year 2000.

On 15th December 1999, at 54th conference of the United Nations General Assembly, after discussing item agenda 174 of the program, the General Assembly was officially recognized and acknowledged the celebration or the Day of Vesak (commemorate three days, the birth of the Buddha, his attainment of enlightenment and his passing away, equivalent time is the Full Moon day in the month of May). This day is called the UN Day of Vesak Celebration and considered as the UN Day of religious cultural festival. The celebration will be held at the United Nations Headquarters (New York city, USA), and its Regional Offices over the world from the year 2000 onwards.

In 2000, first time the UN Day of Vesak Celebration was solemnly held at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, with representatives of Buddhist traditions from 34 countries.

II. THE UNITED NATIONS DAY OF VESAK CELEBRATION OF INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST COMMUNITY

1. The first United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration (2004): The UN Day of Vesak Celebration, International Buddhist Conference (IBC) was supported by Thailand Royal Government and Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University held the celebration at Buddhamonthon Buddhist centre, with participation of over 35 countries and hundreds of International Buddhist delegations. In June of 2004, the Vesak celebration activities were held at the United Nations Headquarters, New York, USA. In July of the same year, the IBC on theme “Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism” was held at the Buddhamonthon Conference Hall, under support of Government of Thailand and approval of the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand. At this historical conference, the attended countries approved Thailand which will be hosted the UN Day of Vesak Celebration in year 2005.

2. The second UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2005): During the plenary conference in April 2005, the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand was appointed the Mahachulalongkorn University as organizer of the UN Day of Vesak 2005 for the second time. Result is from 18th to 21st May 2005, the IBC was held to mark the Vesak week in Sanamluang, Buddhamonthon and the United Nations Centre for Asia Pacific. In a joint statement for the same year, Buddhist leaders from 42 countries approved Buddhamonthon as a Centre of World Buddhism, and Mahachulalongkorn University to be continued as a coordinator of the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations.

On 9th September 2005 at the plenary conference, the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand was appointed the Mahachulalongkorn University which will be represented the Thailand Buddhist Sangha will be held the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations from now on.

3. The third UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2006):  On 7-10th May 2006, at the United Nations for Asia Pacific Hall and Buddhamonthon, the third Vesak Day was held and is jointly celebrating the 60th Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej's Accession to the Throne. Buddhist leaders from 48 countries attended this International Buddhist Conference. In a general statement, all Buddhist leaders signed the agreement to approve the Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University as an organizational unit for the UN Day of Vesak 2017 and was simultaneously celebrating the 80th Auspicious Birthday Anniversary of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

4. The fourth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2007):  On 26th to 29th May 2007, the fourth UN Day of Vesak was solemnly held at the United Nations Hall for Asia Pacific and Buddhamonthon with participants from 61 countries and regions.

On 29th May 2007, during the closing ceremony, after considering the petition of the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and hosted registration letter of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Vietnam, Most Venerable Dharmakosajarn based on the Charter of the UN Day of Vesak Celebrations to officially declare before 500 Buddhist delegates from 62 countries that the Socialist Republic of Vietnam will be a hosted country for the UN Day of Vesak Celebration in year 2008.

5. The fifth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2008):  The fifth UN Day of Vesak is first held in Vietnam at National Centre USA – Ha Noi, from 14th to 17th May 2008 with the participation of 4,000 official national and international delegates from 74 countries and territories, including the Buddhist leaders, scholars, Buddhist researchers and representatives of the United Nations, UNESCO and international organizations.

Theme on the UN Day of Vesak 2008 is Buddhist Contribution to building a Justice, Democratic and Civilised Society

Themes need to be discussed in workshop (sub-themes) include:

 (i) Role of Buddhism in prevention of conflict and war.

 (ii)  Buddhist Contribution on Social Justice

 (iii) Engaged Buddhism and Development

(iv)  Care for Our Environment: Buddhist Response to Climate Change

(v) Family Problems and the Buddhist Response

(vi) Symposium on Buddhist Education Continuity and Progress

(vii) Symposium on Buddhism in the Digital Age

Celebration was also a honour to greet party leaders, State, Government, National Assembly and national and local boards jointly Witness Council of National Buddhist Sangha, Executive Council of National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, monks, nuns, typical Buddhists of the NVBS in nation and abroad.

Professor Le Manh That, Vice Rector of the Vietnam Buddhist Institute in Ho Chi Minh city is president of the International Organizing Committee and Most Venerable Thich Nhat Tu is Secretary General of the International Organizing Committee.

6. The sixth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2009):  On 4-6th May 2009, the sixth UN Day of Vesak was held in Thailand at Buddhamonthon Hall. This celebration is a gathering opportunity of 1256 delegates over 80 countries around the world with Buddhist scholars and supreme religious leaders around the world jointly discuss and contribute ideas in order to apply Dharma in daily life and solve global current problems.

Main theme of workshop in year 2009 is “Buddhist Response to Global Crisis”. Three sub-themes include:

  1. Buddhist Response to Environment Crisis.

(2) Buddhist Response to Economic Crisis.

(3) Buddhist Response to Politic Crisis and Peace Development.

(4) International Association of Buddhist Universities.

 (5) Compiled Project the most Common Buddhist Scriptures.

(6) Network and Buddhist Electronic Data.

7. The seventh UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2010):  The seventh UN Day of Vesak Celebration was hosted by Mahachul­alongkorn University of Thailand and The Inner Trip Reiyukai International (ITRI), Japan at Mahachulalongkorn University, Ayutthaya, ThaiLand, from 23rd  – 25th May 2010. There were 3,000 Buddhist participants including World Buddhist leaders and Buddhist researchers. Theme of the workshop in 2010 is “Recovery of world from Buddhist Vision”. Contemplate have five main workshops as follows:

 (1) Recovery of world through mindfulness peace

 (2) Recovery of world through Buddhist Education

(3) Recovery of world through community existence in harmony

(4) Recovery of ecological world through Buddhism, and

(5) Recovery of world through Engaged Buddhism

On 18th – 19th December 2009, Symposium on “A Common Buddhist Text Project” was held at the University Mahachulalongkorn, Most Venerable Thich Nhat Tu was nominated compilation part of Mahayana Buddhism and Professor Somaratne , Sri Lanka compiled traditional Theravada Buddhism.

8. The eighth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2011):  The seventh UN Day of Vesak Celebration was solemnly held at main Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya hall and the Workshop Centre for Asia Pacific from 12th – 14th May 2011. There were 5,000 Buddhist delegates, among over 1,700 delegates who were foreigner from 85 countries and territories participated this Vesak Celebration.

Main theme of the UN Day of Vesak 2011 is “Virtues in Socio-Economic Development. Workshops included:

(i) Buddhist Leadership and Socio-Economic Development.

(ii) Building a Harmonious Society.

(iii) Environmental Preservation and Restoration.

(iv) Wisdom for Awakening Society.

(v) Common Buddhist Text.

(vi) Buddhist Virtues in Socio-Economic Development.

9. The ninth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2012): The ninth UN Day of Vesak was held from 31st May to 2nd June 2016 at Mahachulalongkorn University and the Asia Pacific hall of the United Nations. The participants were Mahinda Rajapaksa - President of Sri Lanka and Yingluck Shinawatra - Minister of Thailand. There were also about 800 international delegates from over 80 countries.

The UN Day of Vesak 2012 brings a lot of meanings compared with previous years because this was the year which was marked 2,600 years of the Buddha’s enlightenment and also celebrating the 80th Auspicious Birthday Anniversary of Kingdom’s mother and the 60tth of His Thailand Majesty Prince.

Main theme of workshop is “The Buddha’s Enlightenment for the Well-being of Humanity. Workshops include subthemes:

(i) Buddhist Wisdom and Reconciliation.

(ii) Buddhist Wisdom and Environment.

(iii) Buddhist Wisdom and Human Transformation.

10. The tenth UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2013): The ninth UN Day of Vesak was solemnly held at Bangkok and Ayutthaya from 20th - 22nd May 2013. Theme of the celebration is “Buddhist Perspective on Education and Global Citizenship”.

In general house of the world, right is made a global citizen who helps human being has a lot of opportunities understanding the world, improve their knowledge of technology and social sciences, career achievement. By wisdom of Buddhism, human being needs to practise meditation, overcome consumer lifestyle, fast living, simultaneously development of moral responsibility in the relationship between oneself and people.

11. The eleventh UN Day of Vesak Celebration (2014): The eleventh UN Day of Vesak is held at Bai Dinh temple, Ninh Binh province, from 8th to 11th May 2014. The expectation of celebration is 1000 international delegates and about 10,000 national delegates, including Patriarchs, President of Buddhist Congregations. Main theme of this celebration is “Buddhist Contribution towards Achieving the United Nations Millennium Development Goals”. Symposiums for workshops includes below

1) Buddhist Response to Sustainable Development and Social Change.

2) Buddhist Response to Global Warming and Environmental Protection.

3) Buddhist Contributions to Healthy Living.

4) Peace-building and Post-Conflict Recovery.

5) Buddhist Education and University Level Curriculum.

Chairman of the International Organizing Committee for United Nations Day of Vesak 2014 is Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu and Secretary General is Most Venerable Thich Duc Thien.

 

 

 

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