May 16, New York: The United Nations today held a special event organized by Sri Lanka’s Permanent Mission to mark the 2,600th Anniversary of the Enlightenment of the Buddha and to recognize the Day of Vesak as millions of people across the globe celebrate the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha.
Paying tribute to the Buddha’s teaching at the event the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Buddhism and the United Nations share the goals of peace, dignity, and human rights for all people.
“The Buddha’s teachings may be twenty-six centuries old, but they are as powerful as ever today,” Mr. Ban said addressing the gathering.
“This year’s theme of socio-economic development may sound modern, but its core is the very problem of human suffering that Siddhartha Gautama sought to address more than 2,500 years ago when he left his palace, relinquished his worldly possessions and went out into the world,” Mr. Ban said in his message.
“Buddha’s teachings can guide our efforts to resolve the severe problems facing today’s world,” the UN Chief remarked.
“As we celebrate the enlightenment of the Buddha, let us remember, above all, his message of tolerance. Let us respect all religions. And let us work for the well-being of all people,” Ban Ki-moon said.
Addressing the event in his native Sinhalese, Sri Lanka’s representative to the event, National Freedom Front Leader Wimal Weerawansa said an open mind is needed to understand Buddha’s teachings.
The problems faced by the society 2600 years ago are also true in the present society and large powerful nations should not suppress small nations for their greed, he said.
The special event themed around building peace was organized by the Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Dr. Palitha Kohona in cooperation with the Permanent Missions of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Korea, Thailand and Vietnam.
Ambassadors from the participant countries also addressed the event at the UN headquarters.
As part of the celebrations, 500 Buddhist monks will parade the streets of New York for alms.
There will be an interfaith dialogue between all religions at 3:00 p.m. today at the UN headquarters and an exhibition on Buddha’s life and teachings will be opened later in the evening.