|Vesak is celebrated in Nghe An province (Photo: Vietnam Buddhist Sangha)
Buddha's birthday is a major Buddhist celebration worldwide. In Vietnam, Buddha’s 2567th birthday is celebrated for one week from May 26 to June 2 (solar calendar) in many localities.
Activities to celebrate Buddha’s birthday
To celebrate Buddha’s birthday 3,000 Vietnamese and foreign Buddhist monks and nuns participated in the inauguration of the Khmer Theravada Buddhist Academy and a gratitude-paying ceremony in Can Tho city last month. Thanks to the attention of the Party, the State, the government, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and administrations at all levels, the 6.7-ha Khmer Theravada Buddhist Academy was built. The Academy educates Khmer monks at the bachelor's level in Pali-Khmer Buddhism.
The Academy organizes many religious activities such as the Kathina robe-offering ceremony, and Buddha's birthday. The gratitude-paying ceremony is of great significance for Khmer Theravada Buddhism reflecting the traditions and culture of the Khmer ethnic people.
Most Venerable Thich Tri Quang, the Dharma Chairman of the Dharma Council of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha, said: “I hope the Academy not only educates Khmer Theravada monks and nuns in the southwestern region, but also connects with other countries. If we upgrade to train monks in Pali qualification and English proficiency, our relationship with the world will increase and benefit Buddhism and our country.
During Vesak Week, the Executive Board of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha in Thua Thien-Hue province, a locality with many Buddhist followers, will organize multiple activities. Two platforms will be set up at Tu Dam Communal House and Dieu De Emperor Temple. 7 giant lotus lanterns will be released on the Perfume River.
There will be decorations of Buddhist symbols, a performance of the Buddha bathing ceremony and Buddha procession to pray for peace, a parade of flower boats, a release of garlands, exhibitions on Buddhist culture, seminars, Dharma lectures, and incense offerings at Martyrs Cemetery. Gifts will be presented to the martyrs' relatives, families with meritorious services, and wounded soldiers.
Last week, Ba Vang Pagoda in Quang Ninh province, organized a ceremony to celebrate Buddha's birthday with the participation of thousands of monks, nuns and Buddhist followers. This was part of a series of events to celebrate the United Nations Day of Vesak, honor the profound human values of Buddhism and pray for peace and happiness for mankind.
Dieu Phap pagoda in Binh Thanh district, HCM City asked Buddhist monks, nuns, and followers to attend an event called "Return to take refuge in Buddha" at 6 PM next Wednesday.
Many delegations of People's Committees and the Fatherland Front have joined the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha to celebrate Buddha's birthday and presented gifts to monks, nuns and Buddhist followers on this occasion.
Evidence of Buddhism’s development, integration, and freedom of religion and belief in Vietnam
During the 2023 National Vesak Festival in Colombo, Sri Lanka, earlier this month, the Vietnamese Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Vietnamese community there set up a booth to introduce Vietnam’s celebration of Vesak. The exhibition booth gave foreign friends an overview of Vietnamese Buddhism’s history and development and its contribution to national development and international integration. Exchange activities between Vietnamese and Sri Lankan Buddhism were held which showed the potential for stronger cooperation on Buddhism between the two countries.
The Vesak celebrations of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha at all levels and Vietnamese monks and nuns and Buddhists at home and abroad are strong evidence against the distortions of the US State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report on freedom of religion in Vietnam.
Deputy spokesperson for the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Pham Thu Hang said: "As a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country with diverse religious and belief life, Vietnam consistently implements a policy of respecting and guaranteeing a citizen's right to freedom of religion and belief, and the right to follow or not follow any religion, ensuring equality and non-discrimination on the grounds of religion or belief and protecting activities of religious organizations by law.
These rights are prescribed in the Constitution of Vietnam, the 2016 Law on Belief and Religion and related legal documents and are guaranteed to be respected in practice. Vietnam has constantly fine-tuned its legislation on belief and religion."
Activities to celebrate Vesak Day in Vietnam are underway throughout the county. If they came and observed, the US State Department and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom would have a more accurate and objective view and assessment of Vietnamese Buddhism’s development and its contribution to national development and international integration.