27 May 2015
The Religious Affairs Department is scheduled to hold a Buddhism week from 29 May to 9 June 2015 nationwide to mark the Visakha Puja Festival, or the "World Day of Vesak.”
On this occasion, Thailand is hosting the 12th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration 2015 between 28 and 30 May. More than 5,000 Buddhists and Buddhist monks from 90 countries are expected to attend this event.
Visakha Puja, or 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 2015, this significant day coincides with 1 June. Visakha Puja is recognized as an international event by the United Nations
In Bangkok, events for the Buddhism week will be held at the Sanam Luang ceremonial site. Among various activities are exhibitions, Dhamma lectures, sermons, prayers, alms-offering, and a candle-lit procession. The Religious Affairs Department is also joining hands with the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority in organizing religious tours of nine temples for interested people. The Bangkok National Museum will allow people to pay homage to significant Buddha images inside the museum during the period. In the provinces, the provincial culture offices and local temples will jointly hold religious activities to celebrate this festival.
Culture Minister Vira Rojpojchanarat said that copies of pamphlets in Thai, English, and Chinese have been distributed for both Thais and international tourists, to help them know more about the Visakha Puja Festival. A campaign has also been launched to encourage the people to display the Thai national flag, together with the Dhamma Wheel flag, in front of their households, and to make merit, as well as refraining from all vices, as a tribute to the Buddha.
As for the 12th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration 2015, it will take place at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University, a public Buddhist university in Wang Noi district of Ayutthaya province, and at the United Nations Conference Center in Bangkok. The participating Buddhist leaders and monks will also join a candle-lit procession at Buddhamonthon, a Buddhist religious center in Nakhon Pathom province.
The 12th United Nations Day of Vesak Celebration features an international conference on the theme "Buddhism and World Crisis.” The conference comprises discussions on four major topics: Buddhist Response to Social Conflict, Buddhist Response to Environmental Degradation, Buddhism and ASEAN Community, and Buddhist Response to Educational Crisis. There will be a keynote address on Buddhism and World Crisis by Dr. Damien Keown, Emeritus Professor of Buddhist Ethics at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Dr. Keown stated that, while the world had faced many crises in the past, the threat seems greater today because of modern developments, such as globalization, advanced technology, mass migration, and the accelerated speed of transport and communications. There is a greater need than ever for Buddhist teachings to be heard, and not just heard but implemented with commitment and decisiveness.