Buddhists worldwide celebrate the holiest day in their annual calendar – Vaishakha Buddha Purnima Divas on Monday, 16th May.
The day is recognised as the Birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, who was born in Lumbini, Nepal. After attaining enlightenment in Bodhgaya in Bihar, northern India, Lord Buddha preached his first sermon at Sarnath and attained Nirvana in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh. According to Buddhist tradition, Queen Mahamayadevi gave birth to Siddhartha Gautama at around 623 B.C. in Lumbini, which was recognised as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1997.
Organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) in Delhi with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Buddhist leaders from over a dozen countries including Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace laureate His Holiness the Dalai Lama will release their messages as a part of the celebration.
The Chief Guest for the event will be Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, while the Guest of Honour will be Union Culture and Tourism Minister G. Kishan Reddy with Minister of State for Culture Arjun Ram Meghwal as special guest.
The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) is a global umbrella Buddhist body headquartered in New Delhi, India. Established under the patronage of the supreme Buddhist religious hierarchy, it currently has a membership drawn from 39 countries, of over 320 organisations, both monastic and lay, that include world bodies, national and regional federations, orders, temple bodies and monasteries, international organisations, institutions etc.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who himself is a Hindu Brahmin, will be in Lumbini to visit the sacred Mayadevi temple to offer prayers. He will also deliver an address at a Buddha Jayanti event organised by the Lumbini Development Trust under the aegis of the Government of Nepal.
According to reports, Prime Minister Modi will also participate in the Shilanyas ceremony for the construction of a unique centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage.
The construction of the unique India International Centre for Buddhist Culture and Heritage with a universal appeal will be undertaken by New Delhi-based International Buddhist Confederation under the auspices of the Lumbini Development Trust with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. International Buddhist Confederation is a grantee body under the Ministry of Culture. The Buddhist Centre will be the first Net Zero Emission building in Nepal.
India’s continued support to the Buddhist communities is a welcome development at a time when the Communist China engages in the total destruction of anything to do with Buddhism. This includes the destruction of Buddha statues in Tibet. According to reports, Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns were kicked out from their monasteries and nunneries whilst the Chinese authorities also demolished Buddhist learning centres in Tibet in recent years.
(By Tsering Passang, London)