Sri Lanka Vesak Day will Open with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

By pwbaker (Flickr: IMG_4993) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By pwbaker (Flickr: IMG_4993) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
The schedule for the UN Vesak Day in Sri Lanka is rolling out.

This year, the United Nations Vesak Day will be celebrated in Colombo and Kandy in Sri Lanka, May 12 to 14. It is the first time the UN Vesak Day will be held in Sri Lanka. A large number of local and foreign delegations are expected to participate. The chief guest during the opening ceremony in Colombo will be Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the closing ceremony to be held at the Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy will be attended by Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.

Sri Lanka Vesak Day will Open with Prime Minister Narendra Modi[/tweetthis]

PM Modi will also have a meeting with the leadership of Sri Lanka and they will get to finalize the development cooperation agreements and discuss key issues including the Palk Bay fisheries conflict. This will be his second visit to this island nation with the first being in March 2015 and it resulted in renewed ties following a leadership change.

The Vesak day also known as Wesak or Buddha Day is a traditional holiday that is celebrated annually on the full moon of the ancient lunar month of Vesakha. It is celebrated by the Buddhists and usually falls in May or early June. The Vesak Buddhists remember the birth of the Buddha-to–be, Siddhattha Gotama, when he became a Buddha at the age of 35 and his final “passing” into Nirvana at the age of 80 and no more to be reborn. This year’s theme is ‘Buddhist teachings for social justice and sustainable world peace.’

Various Buddhists nations and groups do celebrate differently due to the cultural and local differences. However, most Buddhists will try for part of their day to go to their local temple while others will choose to remain there throughout the day and night of the full moon. During this period, they practice, giving, virtue and cultivation and they do good and meritorious deeds. Giving involves bringing food to offer and share, and brings supplies to the temple and symbolic offerings to the shrine. Virtue is reaffirming commitment to the moral precepts while cultivation includes meditation, chanting and listening to sermons.

It is a great opportunity for Sri Lanka to host the celebrations which are being held for the 14th time this year and they have invited delegations from more than 85 countries and 72 have already confirmed attendance. The first celebrations were solemnly held at the United Nations headquarters, New York in 2000 and there were Buddhist representatives from 34 countries.

On May 12, there will be a special Vesak zone at Diyawanna, and the academic conference is scheduled for May 13 at the BMICH.  At the Nelum Pokuna, there will be a cultural show.  Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe says there is a replica of the  Shakya Kingdom being constructed with some segments having been completed and it will be declared open on May 11.


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