World Buddhist leaders have agreed to hold the UN International Vesak Festival in Sri Lanka from May 11 to 13, 2017, Justice and Buddhasasana Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe said yesterday. This United Nations Day of Vesak is celebrated annually in Buddhist countries. This is the first time Sri Lanka has been given the opportunity to host this festival.
The minister said the UN Vesak Day Committee has unanimously agreed to hold the international Vesak day in Sri Lanka on the above days.
According to a statement issued by the ministry, the inauguration of the 14th UN Vesak day will take place at the BMICH with President Maithripala Sirisena, Indian President Narendra Modi and a host of other national and international delegates participating. Over 2000 delegates including Buddhist and political leaders from several countries will attend the event.
On May 11 at 7 pm the festival will be launched at the special Vesak zone at Diyawanna near the Parliament complex.
The concluding ceremony will take place at the Sri Dalada Maligawa premises in Kandy. Minister Rajapakshe on behalf of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe made an official request from the UN Vesak Committee at the last UN Vesak day held in Thailand for the hosting of the festival in Sri Lanka in 2017.
The UN General Assembly in 1999 declared an “International Day of Observance for Vesak” — on the initiative of the then Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.