The Sri Lanka High Commission in Nairobi, Kenya, co-hosted the Vesak Day commemoration with the Thai Embassy in Nairobi at the United Nations Office in Nairobi (UNON) on 5 May 2023. The inspiring Vesak ceremony was held for the first time in the main conference hall of the UNON, with the participation of the UN Under-Secretary-General and Director General of the UNON Zainab Hawa Bangura, Deputy Governor of the Nairobi County Njoroge Muchiri, Ambassadors, Kenyan government authorities, including the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Ministry of Kenya, and members of the Sri Lankan community. There were around 300 participants gathered at the UNON to attend the important event.
The Vesak Day commemoration commenced with the opening remarks by the High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Veluppillai Kananathan, who explained the importance of Vesak for Buddhists around the world and emphasized that the teachings of Lord Buddha, which date back more than two millennia, are more relevant than ever to the conflict-stricken world of today. While thanking the UNON for its exceptional support and cooperation to organize the Vesak Day celebrations on a grander scale than ever before and recalling the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 54/115, sponsored jointly by Sri Lanka and Thailand in 1999, that internationally recognized the Day of Vesak at the United Nations, High Commissioner Kananathan remarked that it was a universal acknowledgement for the doctrine of peace, compassion, and non-violence of Lord Buddha.
The UN Under-Secretary-General and Director General of the UNON, Zainab Hawa Bangura, read the Vesak Day special message issued by the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres. The Secretary General’s message underlined that the principles of Vesak have a deep resonance with the goals of the United Nations, and the Buddha’s teachings of tolerance, compassion, and service to humanity which are a source of solace and strength at this time of strife. Further, the message proposed seizing the spirit of Vesak by working together in solidarity for a more peaceful world for all.
The UN Director General further said “Reviving the world’s ecosystems – our very lifeline – by 2030 is not an easy endeavour. But it is crucial if we want to avert a climate catastrophe, mass biodiversity loss and food insecurity. In this context, we are thankful to Sri Lanka High Commission’s generous support to bringing degraded ecosystems back to life, here in Kenya.This is an example of partnership, countries joining forces in our shared mission to launch a Generation Restoration”
Chief incumbent of the Buddhist temple in Nairobi Venerable Yatirawana Wimala Thero, and Venerable Labunoruwe Sobitha Thero conducted Vesak Day Damma sermons and invoked blessings.
The highlight of the Vesak Day event was the donation of one million seedlings and plants by the Sri Lanka High Commission and a group of Sri Lankans in Kenya to Nairobi City County as a gesture of goodwill and symbolic support for the 50 billion tree-planting campaign launched by the President of Kenya Dr William Ruto. After accepting the seedlings and plants, the Deputy Governor of Nairobi City County Njoroge Muchiri said that he was overwhelmed by the continued support received from High Commissioner Kananathan for the tree-planting drive in Kenya and added that it was significant to receive one million seedlings on the thrice-blessed Day of Vesak. The Deputy Governor also underscored the fact that in today’s globalized world, climate change and environmental degradation threaten the very future of the planet and acknowledged the Buddha’s message of solidarity and mutual support, which continued to provide important inspiration for the collective efforts to build a better world.
The Deputy Governor announced that the Sri Lanka High Commission was the first diplomatic mission represented in Kenya to extend support to the Kenyan-President-led progressive tree-planting campaign in Kenya and praised High Commissioner Kananathan as an outstanding diplomat of Sri Lanka who has been promoting the bilateral relations between Kenya and Sri Lanka in a pragmatic manner.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs – Sri Lanka.