Vesak Celebrations, Perahera in New York

NEW YORK– The Sri Lanka Mission to the United Nations is making elaborate plans to celebrate Vesak and the 2600 Sambuddhathva Jayanthi with a special session of the UN General Assembly on May 16. The theme: Buddhism and Peace.

Among the invitees are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, President- General Assembly, Joseph Deiss, senior dignitaries from Buddhist countries, Buddhist scholars and monks. The session is scheduled to commence at 10 am.

Earlier, on that morning, there will be an offering of a morning meal (heel dana) to 200 Buddhist monks ---from Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Japan, South Korea, Laos and Bhutan, at the Dag Hammarskjold Park, in the shadow of the United Nations. The monks will have their "dhana"at the Sky Lounge of the Dag Hammarskhold Plaza.

At 3 p.m., there will be an inter-faith dialogue among Islamic, Christian, Hindu and Jewish religious leaders from the Philippines, Pakistan, India and the United States. The dialogue will take place in the General Assembly hall.

A Buddhist Heritage Exhibition will be held at the entrance lobby of the General Assembly Hall, including artifacts and replicas from Buddhist shrines in Sri Lanka.

The highlight of the celebrations will be a ceremonial Buddhist procession (perahera) through the streets of New York, along Second Avenue, on Saturday, May 21. The perahera route has been confirmed by the New York City police department, which has to give its ‘blessings’ for such a public event.

A cultural show, following the perahera, will take place at the Dag Hammarskhold Park. The observance of Vesak at the UN was initiated by the late Lakshman Kadirgamar, when he was Foreign Minister.

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