Promoting Buddhism and raising awareness of International Day of Visakha
Visakha Puja Day, or Vesak Day as traditionally known by Sri Lankans, is one of the most important days in Buddhism and for Buddhists. It marks the anniversary of three significant events in the life of the Buddha – His Birth, Enlightenment, and Attainment of Complete Nibbana – that occurred on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, or during May each year.
On 15 December 1999, proposed by representatives of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Ukraine, the General Assembly of the United Nations officially gave, through its resolution 54/115 of 1999, international recognition of the Day of Vesak.
“The spirit of Vesak can help to animate a global response to the challenges of our day. As the United Nations works for the adoption this year of a set of new sustainable development goals and a meaningful new agreement on climate change, we would do well to heed the Buddhist teaching that life and the environment are essentially one. ”
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Day of Vesak
1 June 2015
Buddhism is among the five largest religious groups by world population, namely Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Folk religion. According to the “Global Religious Landscape” research by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life, percentage of the global population of major religious groups in 2010 are as follows; Christians – 31.5%, Muslim – 23.2%, Hindus – 15%, Buddhists – 7.1%, Folk religionists – 5.9%, Jews – 0.2%, Other religions – 0.8% and Unaffiliated – 16.3%.
With the importance of Buddhism both in its own merit and in global perspective, the embassy had recently welcomed a visit of a group of Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka, Laos and Thailand (from Wat Thai Washington, D.C.), a professor of Eastern Religions and Baptist chaplain from George Washington University and discussed about collaborative efforts to promote Buddhism as well as raising awareness of the International Day of Visakha. During the discussion, it was agreed that Buddhist traditions, especially the observance of Visakha holiday, should also be celebrated at the White House, in same manner as Christian (Thanksgiving / Christmas), Muslim (Iftar Dinner during Ramadan), Hindu (Diwali) and Jewish (Passover Seder) traditions have been celebrated there.