White House celebrates Vesak for the first time | Daily News

White House celebrates Vesak for the first time

For the first time ever, the White House celebrated Vesak, the holiday that commemorates the Buddha’s birthday, death, and enlightenment.
 
Wangmo Dixey, Executive Director of Dharma College and President of the International Buddhist Association of America, coordinated the event with the offices of hekar Narasimhan, President of the Dharma Into Action Foundation.
 
The celebration included candle lighting with the Second Gentleman, Douglas Emhoff, and prayers by leaders from the three major Buddist traditions. The White House also released an official statement by President Biden:
 
"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".

The event was coordinated by Wangmo Dixey, President of the International Buddhist Association of America through Shekar Narasimhan, President of the Dharma Into Action Foundation. Lamps were lit and prayers offered by the Most Venerable Uparatana (Sri Lankan/American) on behalf of the Theravada tradition; Ven. Marvin Harada (Japanese/American) on behalf of the Mahayana tradition and Venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche (Tibetan/American) on behalf of the Vajrayana tradition.

Dixey said: "It is wonderful that prayers were offered from all three great traditions of Buddhist practice here, at the heart of American democracy.

It is so auspicious that this should happen on this day of celebration of the life and teachings of the Buddha. May the prayers we offer today bring peace and healing to all peoples, particularly to our brothers and sisters in India, the heartland of the Dharma, and may the light that radiates from here, the White House of America, bring wisdom and harmony to the whole world. We are lighting a million lamps today to honour this historic moment in our Buddhist history in America"