Buddhist celebrations boom nationwide

VNA, May 5, 2006

Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Vietnam -- Crowds of Buddhist clerics gathered in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau on May 4 to mark the Buddha's 2630th birth day.

The get-together, also attended by clerics from the provincial Caodaism sect, was just one of a nation-wide series of Buddhism celebrations based on the 2550-year Buddhist calendar. The Buddha's birth has been recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) as a world religious festival.

With the UN for the first time sponsoring a meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, for Buddhist clerics from 14 member countries on this occasion, Buddhism has proved its increasing role in the international community for the sake of the solidarity, development, prosperity and happiness of human beings.

Ba Ria-Vung Tau contains Viet Nam's large Buddhist congregation with as many as 3,000 monks and nuns practising worship at 513 holy places.

The provincial Buddhist Sangha has opened five Grand Mass services for thousands of followers. Meanwhile, its seminary opened a number of traning courses for prospective monks and nuns and three courses for over 500 others in mid-level careers from the provincial pagodas. Thousands of monks and nuns from other provinces in the south have also benefited from the provincial seminary's training courses.

The provincial Buddhist community has over the past five years raised 32 billion VND for charitable funds. So far this year, local Buddhists have helped build 32 homes for the poor and open three canteen for poor patients in three hospitals.