Vietnam getting Ready for Buddha's Big Day in Hanoi

By Dr. Manpreet Singh, The Seoul Times, Dec 7, 2007

Over 30 members from more than 20 countries gathered  at Vietnam Buddhist University in Ho Chi Ming City to plan the grand celebrations at Hanoi.

Ho Chi Ming City, Vietnam -- Buddhist Monk Su Giac Hoang travelled hundreds of miles away from his remote monastery to Ho Chi Minh City to be part of the preparations under way for the United Nations Day of Vesak 2008. He finds it hard to believe that Vietnam is hosting one of the world's most important and biggest Buddhist events in Hanoi next year.

<< IOC members standing in deep reverence to the Triple Gem, before starting the two-day preparatory meeting.

"All my monk friends and nuns are excited about it. It is a day of great significance for the Buddhist clergy and lay people. I came to serve and assist in making this event a great one for Vietnam," a cheerful Hoang said.

The two-day preparatory meeting of the International Organising Committee (IOC) for the United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) 2008 was held last month at the Vietnam Buddhist University in Ho Chi Minh City.

Over 30 IOC members from more than 20 countries including the USA, Australia, Italy, Russia, Japan, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and India chalked out grand plans for the UNDV celebrations to be held in Hanoi from May 13 to 17 next year. About 4000 Buddhists from all over the world would gather for the celebrations.

The scene at the meeting's venue was marked by religious fervour and meticulous planning. The meeting started with homage to the Triple Gem — the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha— with all the IOC members standing up for prayers in deep reverence. The enthusiasm amongst the participants was palpable.

United Nations in a resolution in 1999 decided to celebrate the thrice-sacred day of Vesak in the month of May. The first celebrations were held way back in the year 2000 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. Subsequently, these celebrations have successfully been held in Bangkok since 2004.

The celebrations will commemorate the 2252nd Year of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing Away of the Buddha Gautama. The event is seen as an opportunity to spread worldwide the Buddha's message of peace, love and harmony for the welfare of humanity.

IOC chairman for UNDV 2008, Most Venerable Professor Le Manh That, said the event was getting immense support from all quarters, including the government. "The government is warming up to the needs of the people. And spirituality is never far from the hearts of the people. The celebration is a sign of growing spirituality in the Vietnamese society."

Briefing media about the large-scale preparations underway, IOC secretary, Venerable Dr. Thich Nhat Tu informed the celebrations would include spiritual retreats by the world-famous Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and academic conferences consisting of six workshops.

"World Buddhist leaders would deliberate over the problems faced by the humanity today. The problems like war, conflict, poverty and violence will be discussed, while seeking a Buddhist perspective and contribution towards building a just, democratic, and civil society," he said.

Venerable Nhat Tu added: "Things are moving smoothly. Every one is working very hard. After all it is a moment of rare honour for the Vietnamese people."

The celebrations would emphasise Buddhist and cultural values of Vietnam. Vietnamese traditional cultural shows and Buddhist cultural exhibitions will be organised at the conference venue as well in the Temples' premises in Hanoi. There will be religious chanting from different Buddhist traditions. Special activities like cultural fairs, food fairs and cultural activities will also be held for the local people's participation.

The world's distinguished Buddhist scholar and master Venerable Dr. Bhikkhu Bodhi from the USA would deliver an opening keynote speech on the main theme of the celebrations. The UN Vesak Day ceremonies will be opened by the President of Vietnam.

A special speech will be delivered by the Prime Minister of Vietnam during the closing ceremony and he would host a dinner for the 150 distinguished Buddhist leaders and scholars.

Noble Laureate Professor Amartya Sen is expected to speak on Buddhist perspective on economics and welfare development. While a candle-lit procession for world peace and progress will be organized after the closing ceremony, joined by all the delegates and local people.

The awareness about the Vesak 2008 celebrations is catching up with the young and old alike in Ho Chi Minh City and around the country, following large media coverage of the approaching event.

Bhikkhuni Lien Viet says she has been reading about celebrations in newspapers and along with her friends is looking forward to the celebrations. "We look forward to meeting and benefiting from interaction with the Buddhists from across the world. We all are excited," she said.

A 58-year-old library assistant, Tu Y, finds her emotions too strong to hide: "People not only in Ho Chi Minh City , but throughout the provinces are getting ready for it. They think about it and are waiting for it."

This big event being held in vietnam for the first time offers both an opportunity and challenge to the Vietnamese Buddhists. Professor Elise De Vido, an IOC member from Taiwan, said: "It is a great honour and challenge for Vietnam's Buddhist circles to plan such a large and important international event. I'm sure that the distinguished and hard-working members of IOC and those in Vietnamese Buddhist circles will succeed in bringing real breakthroughs for Vietnamese society, to communicate to Vietnam and the world how Buddhism can contribute towards a civil society."

Every Buddhist and particularly the Vietnamese Buddhist Sangha is putting all its resources and efforts behind the event it a big success, said Venerable Thich Nhat Tu.

In a rush of activity, contributing his own little but important part towards the success of Vesak 2008 celebrations, is busy monk Su Giac Hoang. He sums up the feeling among Vietnam's Buddhists and the Sangha: "Everyone realises the significance of this big day. So everyone is busy working towards the success of the Buddha's big day. I just can't wait to be there in Hanoi for the celebrations."

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: