In a media statement issued today by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju, it was announced that New Delhi would be the venue for the “International Buddha Poornima Diwas Celebration 2015”.
“The International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) with full support of Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India is hosting a historic celebration of the Buddha Poornima “International Buddha Poornima Diwas Celebration 2015” on 4th of May at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi. Shri Kiren Rijiju is the Chairman of the Celebration Committee.
The Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will be the Chief Guest and the Minister of State (I/C) of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Dr. Mahesh Sharma will be the Guest of Honour. Host of dignitaries, Hon’ble Members of Parliaments, Ambassadors, Eminent Scholars, Buddhist Monks and Nuns from India and various countries will attend the event. Large number of followers of Buddha Dharma from all over India will attend the event.
On this occasion, the Prime Minister will lead the nation in prayers and solidarity with the people and nation of Nepal – the land of birth of Buddha and all those affected in India and Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Buddha Poornima or Vesak is recognized as the thrice sacred day that marks the Birth, Enlightenment and Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha. While Buddha was born in Lumbini in Nepal, he attained enlightenment in Bodhgaya in Bihar, Preached first in Sarnath and Nirvana in Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh.
It is unfortunate that this most auspicious and sacred day associated with Buddha, the greatest messenger of peace and gift to humanity, which is celebrated all over the world and also recognized as UN Day of Vesak didn’t receive the official sanction and support in India, the land of origins of Buddha Dharma. Only twice in independent history of India, the day was officially commemorated in 1956 and 2008. The grand 2500th Buddha Jayanti celebrations in 1956 was officially hosted by Govt. of India in Bodhgaya, the holiest site for Buddhists, under the leadership of then Prime Minister late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru. In 2007, the 2550th anniversary of Buddha’s Mahaparinirvana was hosted in Kushinagar.
The move to host International Buddha Poornima Diwas Celebration 2015 was initiated under the aegis of International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) by Shri Kiren Rijiju and the Prime Minster Shri Narendra Modi who has accorded the importance in preservation and promotion of shared heritage and development of Buddhist pilgrimage and heritage circuit in top priority.
It was from India that Buddhism spread to other parts of the world, with the efforts of Emperor Ashoka who in the 3rd century sent his son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra to Sri Lanka, followed by ambassadors of the religion to the west through Afghanistan and the Middle East, even as far as Greece according to many historians. In the centuries that followed, Tibet, China, Korea, Japan and most of Southeast Asia too came under the influence of Buddhism.
Says Minister of State for Home, Shri Kiren Rijiju: “Buddha is the greatest gift that India has given to the world. It is time that we recognize this and celebrate his greatness in the land where he attained enlightenment, delivered his first Sermon, preached the Dharma, and finally attained Parinirvana.”
Ashoka is also credited with having distributed 108 relics from Buddha’s sacred remains to different parts of his great empire. There is a growing demand by Buddhists and all logical minds to bring these out of museums, consecrate them and place them in sanctified structures or viharas to allow the faithful “darshan” and due prayers. A step in this direction has already been taken by the Govt. of Gujarat which has decided to build a Grand Relic Vihara in partnership with the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) for the Holy Relic discovered in Devni Mori in the early 1960s. The relic is presently housed in the Sayaji Museum, Vadodara.
International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) is a global Buddhist umbrella body headquartered in New Delhi and boasts a membership of over 300 bodies, both monastic and lay, including national federations and sanghas, spread over 39 countries. Among the stated objectives of the organization is preservation and development of Buddhist heritage, traditions and knowledge worldwide and to make Buddhist and universal human values and principles a part of the ongoing global social and political discourse on topics that include environment, inter-faith understanding and conflict avoidance and resolution.