Monk praises Vesak celebrations in Vietnam

VNA, April 25, 2008

Hanoi, Vietnam -- A high-level Buddhist monk says he is pleased to be organising the United Nations Day of Vesak for the first time in Vietnam and that the event will help increase the status of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha.

“As a lifelong Buddhist monk living through the ups and downs of the country as well as the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, I have never been happy and proud as I am now when the country is preparing for the most important Buddhist festival,” Most Venerable Thich Gia Quang said.

The celebrations, marking Buddha’s birthday and his Enlightenment and entry into Nirvana, will take place in Hanoi from May 13-17.

Quang, who is deputy general secretary of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha Central Committee that are co-organising the event, said the celebrations will be a special chance to honour Buddhism in a place where it has existed for more than 2,000 years and boasted more than 10 million followers.

According to the senior monk, all localities, government agencies, people and Buddhist organisations are sparing no effort to ensure the success of the festival.

The event will be held in 54 out of 64 cities and provinces nationwide. Along with Hanoi, which will be the main venue of celebrations from May 13-17, northern Quang Ninh and Ninh Binh provinces are accelerating preparations to welcome delegates to their Buddhist vestiges and world heritage site.

The event is expected to attract around 3,500 delegates, including 2,000 from 80 countries and territories, including Buddhist dignitaries, scholars.

The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha – the sole representative of Vietnam’s biggest religion – was established in 1981. It currently has 15,000 places of worship nationwide, with 40,000 dignitaries and followers.