In keeping with the UN Resolution of 8th February 2000, recognizing the significance of the Day of Vesak as the most sacred day to Buddhists all over the world, as it marks the birth, the enlightenment and the passing away of the Lord Buddha, the Day of Vesak was first commemorated at the FAO in the year 2004. Since then the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the FAO in Rome has been organizing Vesak commemorative events in FAO for the last few years.
This year's event was jointly organized by the Embassy of Sri Lanka and the Royal Thai Embassy in Rome and was marked by its special significance given the historical milestone of the 2600thSambuddhaJayanthi, Anniversary of the Enlightenment of the Buddha, celebrated worldwide to commemorate the message of goodwill, tolerance and peace enunciated in Buddhism.
The Ambassador of Thailand, Somsakdi Suriyawongse, addressed the crowd present at the commemorative even, highlighting Buddhism's increasing appeal to the modern world because 'it is reasonable and scientifically based. Buddhism has an extremely open attitude in examining what is true. The objective of Buddhism is to overcome our limitations and problems, and to realize our potentials, so that we can develop ourselves to our best".
In connection to this fundamental aspect of Buddhism, Sri Lanka's Ambassador, Hemantha Warnakulasuriya, highlighted, in his address, the significance of this year's theme of the Day of Vesak – "Buddhist Virtues in Socio-Economic Development" – stating how the 'many crises faced by the world today, in the diverse aspects of economics and finances, food security, climate change and protection of the environment, the spread of terrorism and the growing search for peace and democracy, underlines the importance of the core teachings of the Buddha that presents the Middle Path for genuine social progress.
Among the guests who participated at the commemorative ceremony, along with FAO Chief of Protocol, Michael Hage, and the officials of the Rome-based UN Agencies, were the members of the Diplomatic Missions of those countries which co-sponsored the UN Resolution giving international recognition to the Day of VesaK, including the Ambassador of Lesotho to Italy, Jonas Sponkie Malewa.
The programme of the event included the alms-giving and a special Dhamma talk by Ven. Ajahn Ottama of the "Santacittarama" Buddhist Monastery in Rieti, Italy. Ven. Ajahn Ottama presented an enlightening talk on importance of Buddhist ideology and how Buddhist values and norms of conduct are still even more valid in our daily living not only as individuals but also as citizens comprising several communities. He also highlighted that it is time to lay emphasis on ethical and socially acceptable values taught in Buddhism to ensure our both material and spiritual progress. It was followed by a very interactive discussion with the crowd on the Dhamma talk.
Embassy of Sri Lanka, Rome
12th June 2011