From May 12th through the 14th, representatives from around the world gathered for the 16th United Nations Celebration of Buddha's Birthday - Vesak 2019. The General Assembly, by its resolution 54/115 of 1999, recognized internationally the Day of Vesak to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity. Celebrated annually on May 17th, the official Vesak conference was hosted for the third time this year in Vietnam.
According to the Conference Coordinator, Most Ven.Dr. THICH NHAT TU, this United Nations Day of VESAK marked the largest participation of heads of state in all the years that the celebration has been hosted. Participants included the President of Myanmar, H.E. Mr. U Win Myint, Prime Minister of Nepal, Right Hon. Mr. K.P. Sharma Oli, Vice President of India, H.E Mr. Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Chairperson of the National Council of Bhutan, H.E. Mr. Tashi Dorji, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations/ Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Asia and the Pacific, H.E. Ms. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, Director-General of UNESCO, H.E. Ms. Audrey Azoulay, more than 20 Ambassadors, and many other dignitaries.
Parliament Chair, Audrey E. Kitagawa, was in attendance as a key representative of the interfaith movement and the Parliament in this global celebration. The conference included over 110 programs and key cultural Buddhist events, among them, were a peaceful prayer ceremony attended by more than 30,000 Buddhists, candle-lit procession, flower boat Parade, flower car parade, international and national Buddhist art exhibitions at Grand Buddha hall, Supreme Patriarch Hall, Avalokitesvara Hall, attracted tens of thousands of Buddhists nationwide.
You can explore additional images from the event at undv2019vietnam.com
Our chair was not the only Parliament connection at the celebration, Indian Vice President, Venkaiah Naidu offered a keynote as part of the program and highlighted the legacy of Swami Vivekananda. You can watch the full program in the video below! Skip to 1:05:12 to see the speech.