“Vesak”, the Day of the Full Moon


Siddhartha Gautama, the Lord Buddha, was born in 623 B.C. in the famous gardens of Lumbini, which soon became a place of pilgrimage. © UN Website/Pengfei Mi

The UN General Assembly, by its resolution 54/115 of 1999, recognized internationally the Vesak Day [7 May] to acknowledge the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity.

This day is commemorated annually at the UN Headquarters and other UN offices, in consultation with the relevant UN offices and with permanent missions, which also wish to be consulted.

Background

The teachings of the Buddha, and his message of compassion and peace and goodwill have moved millions. Millions around the world follow the teachings of the Buddha and on the Day of Vesak commemorate the birth, the attainment of enlightenment and the passing away of the Buddha.

A Message from the former Secretary-General, Javier Perez de Cuellar, to Buddhists on the Day of Vesak in May 1986 reads:

“For Buddhists everywhere it is indeed a felicitous opportunity, while commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Guatama Buddha, to celebrate his message of compassion and devotion to the service of humanity. This message is today perhaps more relevant than ever before.”

Peace, understanding and a vision of humanity that supersedes national and other international differences are essential if we are to cope with the complexities of the nuclear age.

This philosophy lies at the heart of the Charter of the United Nations and should be prominent in all our thinking, especially during this International Year of Peace”–Javier Perez de Cuellar.

In a time of growing intolerance and inequality, the Buddha’s message of non-violence and service to others is more relevant than ever.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Message of the UN Secretary-General

I extend best wishes to all celebrating Vesak, a sacred occasion to millions around the world.

On this date marking the birth, enlightenment and passing of the Buddha, all of us, Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, can reflect on his life and draw inspiration from his teachings.

In a time of growing intolerance and inequality, the Buddha’s message of non-violence and service to others is more relevant than ever.

On the Day of Vesak, let us renew our commitment to building a world of peace and dignity for all.

Thank you.

António Guterres

A monk pilgrim meditating under the Bodhi tree in the sacred garden of Lumbini, the Birthplace of the Lord Buddha

UNESCO is currently implementing a project to develop a unique Buddhist Heritage Route for Sustainable Tourism Development in South Asia with support from the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). South Asia is host to a rich Buddhist heritage that is exemplified by the World Heritage properties across the region.

Borobudur Temple Compounds (Indonesia)

Religious movements and religions have had an important role in the history of the Silk Roads. It is notably the case of Buddhism, which had a considerable influence on the early trade routes. Within these growing trade route networks, Buddhism started its development from the Indian Subcontinent, and reached other regions along the Silk Roads. Buddhism dogma was to a great extent in favour of trade, and encouraged commerce and investment.

2020 Human Wrongs Watch

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