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Vesak Day celebrations begin in Ninh Binh

Update: May, 08/2014 - 14:33
Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung delivers a speech at the opening ceremony. — VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh
NINH BINH (VNS) — The 11th United Nations Day of Vesak celebrations were launched this morning at the Bai Dinh Pagoda in the northern Ninh Binh Province.

The celebrations, which end on Sunday, are being hosted by the National Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VDS), and will attract more than 10,000 Vietnamese and foreign Buddhists and over 1,000 domestic and foreign delegates.

Being held inside the Trang An tourism complex, the event's message is Buddhist Perspective Towards Achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution recognising Vesak Day as a day of triple celebrations marking the birth, enlightenment and passing away of the Buddha, showing that it's also an international religious and cultural celebration for world peace, said VDS' Supreme Patriarch Thich Pho Tue.

He added, "Celebrating Vesak 2014 is a good opportunity for our country as well as the Vietnamese Buddhist community to work in collaboration with the international Buddhist community for spreading Buddha dharma and promoting research in Buddhist studies for the sake of all human beings.

Thousands of national and international Buddhists and delegates attended the opening ceremony of the 11th United Nations Day of Vesak this morning at Bai Dinh Pagoda, Ninh Binh Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh

"I believe that all monastic members and Buddhism followers in our country, as well as from foreign countries, will have a good chance to share intellectual and spiritual experiences."

Addressing the opening ceremony, Chairman of the National Assembly Nguyen Sinh Hung said, "The Vesak 2014 celebrations is a chance for us to look back at the efforts of the international community which believes in the Buddha's teachings on developing a world of peace and friendship, less pain and conflicts."

"After Vesak 2008, the organisation of Vesak 2014 further affirms that the Vietnamese State respects and supports the decision of the UN on the Day of Vesak and that Viet Nam always respects the fine religious values, including of Buddhism, which have helped to enlighten the lives of human beings."

Those who attended the opening ceremony also heard messages from regional and international leaders such as UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.

The UN General Secretary's message, delivered by UN Resident Coordinator in Viet Nam Pratibha Mehta, said: "I particularly welcome the theme of your celebrations in Viet Nam and your desire to explore the Buddhist perspective towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. While the Buddha's teachings are eternal, the Buddhist perspective is also valuable now as we accelerate our efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and steer the world onto a more sustainable and equitable path of development.

The Buddhists attend the opening ceremony of the 11th United Nations Day of Vesak this morning.— VNA/VNS Photo Lam Khanh

"In the shadow of enormous tragedies like the Typhoon Haiyan, the Buddha's message of peace, compassion and love for all living beings resonates strongly. It tells us to open our hearts and embrace our fellow human beings, especially those in need.

"At a time of increased tensions in parts of Asia and elsewhere, these timeless teachings can help guide governments and the international community. They can inspire our efforts to address many of the broader challenges confronting our world, from conflict to inequality to climate change. In each of these areas, we have to rise above narrow self-interest, and think and act as members of one global community."

The inauguration ended with a Buddha-bathing ceremony, and the release of birds and balloons to pray for the world peace.

The celebrations will continue with an international Buddhist conference focusing on "Education and Global Citizenship: A Buddhist Perspective" and activities such as chanting and prayer for world peace, a candle-lit procession, Buddhist cultural performances, Buddhist art exhibition and an ecological tour to visit the cultural heritage of Buddhism in Viet Nam. — VNS

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