The Office of National Buddhism represents the Thai government in organizing various activities to mark the “World Day of Vesak,” or Visakha Puja, from 18 to 24 May 2013.
The Day of Vesak commemorates the birth of the Buddha, his attainment of enlightenment, and his passing away. An extraordinary aspect of the occasion is that the three incidents took place on the same day but different years. In 2013, this significant day coincides with 24 May.
The Buddha taught mutual loving-kindness and forbearance for the sake of peace and happiness in society. Since these principles are shared by the United Nations Charter, the United Nations declared that Visakha Puja was a day of universal significance, and directed that observances be held, as appropriate, at the United Nations Headquarters and other United Nations offices each year.
As host of the World Day of Vesak celebration 2013, Thailand has invited a number of Buddhist leaders and monks from all over the world to join the celebration. Buddhamonthon, a Buddhist religious center in Nakhon Pathom province, is the focal point of the celebration. The Buddhist leaders and monks will join a candle-lit procession at Buddhamonthon on 22 May.
As part of the 10th anniversary of the celebration of United Nations Day of Vesak, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, a public Buddhist university in Wang Noi district of Ayutthaya province, will join various organizations in holding an international conference on 21-22 May at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok.
The conference focuses on the theme “Education and Global Citizenship: A Buddhist Perspective.” There will be a panel discussion in commemoration of the celebration of the 100th birthday anniversary of His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, in 2013.
In her message for the United Nations Day of Vesak celebration, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, cited education as the best way to build peace from within, by giving everyone the tools they need for self-fulfillment. On a planet under pressure, education is a force to shape new ways of thinking and acting, to build resilient societies able to adapt to change and mitigate its impact. Fostering global citizenship through education is essential for building genuine and lasting peace. It is vital also for laying the foundations for more inclusive and sustainable development.
Meanwhile, a Buddhism week in celebration of Visakha Puja will be held at the Sanam Luang ceremonial site in Bangkok between 18 and 24 May. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Phongthep Thepkanjana, the Buddhism week is also meant to celebrate the 2,600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha, or Buddhajayanti.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will preside over the opening of the Buddhism week on 18 May.