After the Australian Observance of the United Nations Day of Vesak commencing in 2007 at the Sydney Town Hall it then moved to different places each year being held at the Great Hall of Parliament House Canberra in 2010, Belmore Park Sydney 2019 being the last time it was conducted as a public event. The organising committee decided in 2020 to conduct the event live on Facebook and Youtube during the lock-down, and just cancel the event in 2021 due to the uncertainty of the Covid 19 situation. Even though the situation this year had improved with no more restrictions, the general feeling was it was still not quite safe to hold the celebration in person. The organising committee decided to organise UNVESAK 2022 via Zoom with hope that people would then feel more likely to engage than a normal Facebook live.
Saturday 14th May at 7.00pm was chosen as the best option being before the actual full moon day on Sunday when many temples would have their own VESAK celebrations. The aim was to manage all the planned activities and still condense them into one hour whilst retaining all the significant components of the UNVESAK. Despite not having been attempted before the hope was to entertain and engage the live audience.
Without the need of travelling to the venue the event was enjoyed by almost 200 participants nationally and internationally. The celebration began with the background of The Australian Observance of the United Nations Day of Vesak. The greeting from the MC to participants received a great response via zoom chat messages which verified the hoped for engagement from the audience. This was followed with three Vesak Messages from United Nations Secretary-General,The Prime Minister of Australia and the Leader of the Opposition.
The only music performance was a song most relevant for the current world situation, “You and I are One” by Mr Howard McCarry the audience could sing and wave along with the singer as if they were present in the concert hall.
After the music performance the event changed tone to be Buddhist Ceremony, beginning with a message from the Buddhist Federation of Australia President, the Most Ven. Sudhammo. This was followed with Buddhist Chanting from the Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions which was designed to be part of the Buddhist Practice that the participants could chant along with the Buddhist monks.
Meditation along with VESAK candle lighting was conducted to pay homage to the Buddha and with the aim to achieve World Peace was the highlight at the end of the night. The program was run from the Dhammakaya temple in Berrilee, however participants from home were also able to light candles and meditate together. This created the atmosphere all participants felt they were together located in the one place.
Well known international guest Ven. Dr. Pornchai Palawadhammo President of World Alliance of Buddhists (WAB) who at the conclusion of events reflected that it was good way via zoom that we could all celebrate the Buddhas Day.
Another comment came from Senior Venerable Phuoc Tan Thich, Abbot of Quang Minh Temple in Melbourne who mentioned that the message from the event was very clear and that we could refresh our self to the Buddhas message that would be of benefit to all sentient beings. Even though the event ran for only one hour but not a minute was wasted.