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Light Up Peace: Vesak Day Celebration at Washington DC

Image courtesy of the IBAA

On 23 May 2024, from 5:00 P.M. to 6:00 P.M. EDT, the Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation and the International Buddhist Association of America (IBAA) will jointly co-organize the Light Up Peace Ceremony in commemoration of Vesak Day at the National Monument in Washington DC.

23 May marks this year’s Vesak, Saga Dawa, or Buddha Purnima, commemorating the birth, enlightenment, and death of the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, more than 2,500 years ago.

An event for people of all religious traditions (and none), the Light Up Peace Ceremony is inviting Buddhist practitioners from across the intrafaith Buddhist community to gather at the iconic Washington Monument, around which the assembled participants will walk three times in prayer—replicating a circumambulation around a stupa—dedicated to all sentient beings.

As the Light Up Peace Ceremony states, “As a symbol of respect, and gratitude in the founding of this nation, the Washington Monument provides a fitting backdrop for this sacred occasion.” 

IBAA was founded on 9 November 2015 under the monks Ven. Thanat Inthisan, PhD and Ven. Katugastota Uparatana. The organization is guided by the highest aspirations of Buddhist wisdom and insight, with its mission statement being, “to promote the Buddhadharma in America by acting as a unified voice for all American Buddhists at state and national level in the nation’s capital of Washington D.C.” It also hosts an annual Vesak event. Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff hosted last year’s White House Vesak Celebration.

At the core of this important event for American Buddhists are three guiding principles. 

Celebrating Diversity: “In the rich tapestry of our nation’s diverse community, Vesak Day holds significance for the more than three million Buddhist practitioners across the United States. It is a day of reverence, marking the birth of Buddha, enlightenment, and passing away. We mark this auspicious occasion to celebrate his teachings of compassion and devotion to humanity.”

Fostering Unity and Mutual Understanding: “By hosting this event at the Washington Monument, we extend an invitation to people of all faiths and spiritual backgrounds to join us in appreciating cultural diversity and nurturing mutual respect and understanding. The theme of light serves as a poignant metaphor, reminding us that the illumination of our inner beings begins with a single spark.”

Embracing Unity, Peace, and Hope: “Through this ceremony, we emphasize the universal values of unity, peace, and hope. It is a testament to the inherent humanity, compassion, and kindness within each of us, guiding us towards spiritual enlightenment and collective harmony.”

The IBAA extends a warm invitation to all individuals, regardless of faith or creed, to join the assembled guests on 23 May for this celebration of light, peace, and unity. “Together, let us ignite the flame of compassion and illuminate the path towards a brighter, more harmonious world,” proclaims the IBAA’s press release.

For more information, please feel free to contact Wangmo Dixey, the president of the IBAA.

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 510-847-2966

Related news reports from BDG

Ahead of Vesak, Catholic Leadership Urges Buddhists to Continue Interfaith Work for Peace
Young Buddhist Association of Indonesia Celebrates Vesak in the Spirit of Social Harmony
Buddhists Welcomed to White House to Celebrate Vesak
Dalai Lama Points to the Heart of the Buddhadharma as Buddhists Around the World Observe Vesak

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