WASHINGTON: For the first time in US history, the White House celebrated Vesak, the holiday that commemorates the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and death.
The celebration included candle lighting with Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and representatives from the three major Buddhist traditions.
Joining Buddhists at home and around the world in their celebration of Vesak, US secretary of state Tony Blinken said Happy Buddha Purnima. “On this occasion, we celebrate the invaluable contributions of Buddhist communities the world over. We join these communities in recommitting ourselves to upholding the universal principles of compassion, peace, and respect for human dignity,” said Blinken.
Vesak commemorates the three key events in Shakyamuni Buddha’s life: birth, enlightenment and nirvana.
During this harsh time, many things have changed and been upended due to COVID-19 but the teachings of the Buddha remain stable and outstanding for their principles of compassion and wisdom.
On the occasion of Vesak, US President Joe Biden sent greetings on 26 May 2021 to the Buddhist community.
“(First Lady) Jill and I extend our warmest wishes to Buddhists in the United States and around the world as they celebrate Vesak, a day honoring the birth, enlightenment, and passing of the Buddha. The ceremonial lighting of a lamp, the symbol of this holiday that has been celebrated for over 2,500 years, reminds us of Buddhism’s teachings of compassion, humility, and selflessness that endure today. On this day, we also commemorate the many contributions of Buddhists in America who enrich our communities and our country as we all work together toward brighter days ahead.”
In a tweet, US Vice President Kamala Harris shared.
“Today Buddhists in the US and across the world honor Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passing with the celebration of Vesak — a symbol of compassion, unity and care for each other. These lessons couldn’t be more important today. (Second Gentleman) Doug and I wish a Happy Vesak to all who celebrate!”