The United Nations (UN) Vesak Day celebrations were held this year in Thailand, once more following Lakshman Kadirgamar's initiative in moving the February 8, 2000 UN resolution which internationally recognized the Day of Vesak as the day most sacred for Buddhists all over the world.
More than 100 monks from Sri Lanka representing all the Nikayas were among several thousands who participated. Ambassador A.T.Ariyaratne made the keynote speech at the main celebration in Ayudhya and also gave a speech at the Bangkok celebrations at UN headquarters in which he explained why the Sinhala word Vesak was accepted in setting apart a day in the UN calendar.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Ariyaratne said the United Nations Resolution came as the result of the hope expressed by the International Buddhist Conference held in Sri Lanka in November 1998, that the day of Vesak - the Day of the full moon in the month of May every year - be recognized internationally and in particular, at the United Nations Headquarters and other United Nations offices.
“As a token of gratitude for Sri Lanka’s initiative in moving this Resolution, the General Assembly decided to use a word from the main national language of Sri Lanka, Sinhala, to name this Day. Thus it was named the UN Day of Vesak, a Sinhala word whose equivalents are ‘Vaishaikya’ in Sanskrit and ‘Vesakha’ in Pali,” he explained.
This international recognition acknowledges the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions of the world , has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of the human race, he said. Mr. Ariyaratne added that with the problems the global population is faced with today, this year’s Vesak theme of ‘Global Recovery: A Buddhist Perspective,’ was aptly selected.
“The world we live in is afflicted with fear, sorrow, hatred, distrust, violence as well as ecological imbalance. The best solution for a global recovery could be well worked out through the great teachings of the Buddha,” he said. Mr. Ariyaratne thanked the government of the Kingdom of Thailand, the United Nations Conference Centre in Bangkok, the Office of the International Council of the United Nations Day of Vesak for their contribution to organize the 7th United Nations day of Vesak in Thailand.
“My special appreciation goes to the Maha-chula-long-korn-raja-vidyalaya University of Thailand and the Inner Trip Rei-yu-kai International of Japan for co-hosting this important event,” he said.