HÀ NỘI — Buddha’s Birthday celebrations this year were a little bit lower key, as the world battles the COVID-19 pandemic.
A number of religious ceremonies have been put on hold, but Vũ Chiến Thắng, head of the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, said Việt Nam’s solidarity and consensus for all religions still shines through, despite the global spread of coronavirus.
He was speaking at a ceremony organised by the Việt Nam Buddhist Shanghai (VBS) in Hà Nội on Thursday to mark Buddha’s 2564th birthday.
He appreciated the dedication of VBS who have worked with local governments in the fight against COVID-19, helping the country control the pandemic.
Thắng hoped that VBS will continue encouraging monks, nuns and followers to comply with the Party and State directives on prevention and control of the disease and organise religious activities that suit the situation.
This year’s ceremony was a simple affair making sure to avoid large gatherings. The event was aired on An Viên Television, VTVCab, and social media to help Buddhists nationwide join in.
Most Venerable Thích Thanh Nhiễu, Standing Vice Chairman of the VBS Executive Council, read Buddha’s message of promoting social consensus, especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said since the pandemic, the VBS executive board in cities and provinces nationwide have called for the donation of hundreds of tonnes of rice for people facing difficulties,
Upholding its traditional solidarity with the entire nation, the VBS requested followers to adhere to State policies and laws to help promote economic growth and ensure social security, Nhiễu said at a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình on Wednesday.
Vice Chairman of the Việt Nam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Ngô Sách Thực delivered a congratulatory letter from the Central Committee’s President, which recognised the significant contributions the VBS and Buddhists at home and abroad have made to Party and State efforts to fight COVID-19.
Lê Thị Nga, 60, from Hai Bà Trưng District said she often went to Quán Sứ pagoda on the first day and the fifteen day of the lunar month.
“Since the COVID-19 broke out, I prayed at home on those occasions due to social distancing,” she said, adding that she wore a mask during the ceremony.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Vesak festival did not include art and other programmes that would have required people to gather.
The anniversary was conducted online on various media platforms so that monks and nuns and Buddhist followers could attend.
At the ceremony, the Most Venerable Thích Trí Quảng, deputy head of the Supreme Patriarch Council of the VBS, read a message from the Most Venerable Thích Phổ Tuệ, supreme patriarch of the Sangha.
The message pointed out that the Buddha’s teachings on solidarity and social consensus remained valid to this day, especially as mankind is facing the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the past 26 centuries, the Lord Buddha has enlightened our life, bringing happiness, peace and prosperity to humanity across the planet, keeping at bay inequality, war, conflict, and poverty.”
It praised Buddhist dignitaries, monks, nuns, and followers for their contributions to the city’s development, and wished them a happy festival.
It also hailed them for responding to the Government’s call and complying with the Ministry of Health’s regulations and guidance in the fight against the outbreak.
It called on Buddhist followers and members of the VBS to follow the spirit of “Wisdom – Ethics – Integration – Development”, which is essential for national unity and building and defending the motherland.
“I call on Buddhist followers, monks and nuns in the country and abroad to take practical actions to help build a strong and prosperous Việt Nam, especially to overcome this challenging period.”
The Most Venerable Thích Thiện Nhơn, chairman of the Việt Nam Buddhist Sangha’s executive council, said Buddhist followers have joined hands in the fight against the pandemic. — VNS
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