Cultural events, colourful decorations, discussions on Buddhism and other religious events will be part of the 14th United Nations Day of Vesak to be commemorated in Colombo and Kandy from May 12-May 14. This is the first time Sri Lanka is hosting the event which has earlier been hosted 11 times in Thailand and twice [...]

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All set to celebrate Lanka’s first UN Vesak Day

* Indian Premier chief guest at inaugural event in Colombo, Nepal Premier chief guest at closing ceremony in Kandy * Buddhist symposium panel to include Buddhist scholars and other religious dignitaries
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The replica of Sakya Kingdom coming up in Piliyandala

Cultural events, colourful decorations, discussions on Buddhism and other religious events will be part of the 14th United Nations Day of Vesak to be commemorated in Colombo and Kandy from May 12-May 14.

This is the first time Sri Lanka is hosting the event which has earlier been hosted 11 times in Thailand and twice in Vietnam.

Over 70 countries have confirmed their participation with Pakistan and Seychelles experiencing their first UN Vesak day festival.

The event will be graced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Nepal President Bidhya Devi Bhandari who will be chief guests while UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Ms Una McCauley and a number of Buddhist leaders and scholars from around the world will also be attending.

The inauguration ceremony will be held on Friday at the BMICH in Colombo.

Among the novel features planned for the inauguration include a “Buddhist symphony” where the traditional ‘gatha’ (Buddhist stanzas) will be intoned by musical instruments instead of vocally. This will be conducted by veteran musician Nawarathna Gamage.

A documentary film about the advent of Buddhism in Sri Lanka will be also be screenedwhile commemorative stamps will be issued.

Traditional dansal and digital pandals and a cultural show depicting different traditions and practices of 10 Buddhist countries in the world will be highlights of a special Vesak Zone to come up at Diyawannawa.

The following day a research symposium attended by both local and foreign scholars will be held at the BMICH. Discussions will be on four major themes, Buddhist Teachings for Social Justice and Sustainable World Peace, Inter-Religious Understanding and Common Future for Humankind, Buddhist Economy and Cultural Tourism, Buddhist Media Network for World Peace.

Work underway in front of the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy

Panelists will include Buddhists scholars as well as other religious dignitaries including Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Dr K.T.K. Sarao (Hinduism) and Dr Amir Farid Ishak (Islam).

The declaration published on the final day of every UN Vesak Festival each year and based on the plenary discussions will be presented this time at the closing ceremony to be held in Kandy.

A special Dalada Perahera is also scheduled for the closing ceremony mainly to showcase Sri Lanka’s cultural and traditional heritage to the foreign delegates.

Buddha Sasana Ministry Assistant Secretary Chinthaka Jayasinghe explaining the importance of hosting the UN Vesak Day in Sri Lanka said,“This is a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to highlight religious harmony in the country and to boost cultural tourism.”

Meanwhile, the State Vesak festival will be held on Tuesday May 9) at the Wattarama Raja Maha Viharaya, Kegalle.

A number of Vesak zones will also come up in Colombo and other areas. The Colombo Municipal Council Commissioner said three major Vesak zones will come up in Colombo–Gangaramaya Vesak Zone, Bauddhaloka Mawatha Vesak zone and the Sambodhi Viharaya vesak zone. Vesak zones have also been organised in Galle, Kandy, Gampaha, Negombo and Kelaniya.

(Please see also Plus)

 

Vesak decorations and pandals coming up in Colombo. Pix by Indika Handuwala, Anurada Bandara, Shane Senevirathna and Athula Devapriya

 

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