Buddhists in Ho Chi Minh City enjoy Grand Ceremony

VNA, May 5, 2006

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam -- A number of major programmes in celebration of Buddha's birth anniversary kicked off in Ho Chi Minh City on May 5 and will last until May 12, when the full moon rises.

All Buddhist Sangha offices and pagodas in the city are decorated with banners reading " Welcome the Buddha's Birth Anniversary and 2250-year Buddhist Calendar." National flags fly high together with Buddhist flags while lanterns and flowers make holy places look colourful and add to the atmosphere of festivity.

The municipal Buddhist Sangha said this year's Grand Ceremony will be in a much more major scale than usual to welcome UNESCO's recent recognition of it as a world religious festival, mark the 25th Viet Nam Buddhist reunification and prepare for the upcoming Buddhist Congress.

The head of the HCM City Buddhist Sangha's Council, Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, who is also Vice Chairman of the Viet Nam Buddhist Sangha's Executive Council, will lead a Vietnamese Buddhist delegation to attend the Buddhist Grand Ceremony sponsored by the UN in Bangkok, Thailand, from May 7-10, according to the Sangha.

A major parade comprised of 70 flower-decorated cars and boats will march for the first time across the city while numerous districts plan to release fish into rivers and birds from a big garden.

On May 4, a gala night was for the first time opened in celebration of the Buddha's birth anniversary, while a series of art exhibitions on Buddhism are planned for the week, which will display collections of pictures, lacquer paintings, embroidery works and other art articles on or by Buddhists.