Vesak in Ottawa 

Buddhist Heritage - Vesak Month and Asian Heritage Month


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8th Annual Vesak in Ottawa on 

MAY 5, 2019

Ottawa City Hall

By Lalith A Gunaratne, Secretary - Vesak in Ottawa, Edited by Angela Sumegi is Assistant Professor of Religion at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

In May 2012, Vesak in Ottawa was initiated with the vision to bring the various international Buddhist communities together to spread the word of the Dhamma of loving-kindness and compassion.

The Jamaican born Bhante Kovida and the Cambodian monk Sam Rath provided the spiritual chanting and the Dhamma sermon to an audience of prominent members of the community including Hon. Gordon O'Connor MP and Minister, Hon. Jack MacLaren MPP, Hon. Yasir Naqvi MPP, Hon. Marianne Wilkinson, Ottawa City Counsellor, Cathy Curry OSB trustee, Hunter Mcgill – Public Library Director, Wen Jin of the Chinese community and more.

As such, Vesak in Ottawa received acceptance at the highest levels of the city, province, and federal government. The Buddhist flag was hoisted on Vesak day at the City Hall of Ottawa, and as well there are now road signs to indicate Buddhist temples.

Vesak in Ottawa grew from that humble event to bring together all the communities into an annual May event to celebrate Buddha’s Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away at Ottawa City Hall.

In 2017, a special event was organized in the Canadian Parliament whereby many of the politicians and community leaders participated in a multicultural Vesak event. In 2017, Vesak in Ottawa celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday with an event at Parliament Hill and Ottawa City Hall.

The organizers of Vesak in Ottawa have always wanted to celebrate diversity in the community, especially as Buddhism embraces various sects and practices based on other local religions and cultural practices that were present during the time that Buddhism spread throughout the world.

The spread of Buddhism outside India begins around 250 BCE with the Dharma King Ashoka, emperor of the Maurya dynasty sending his two children – Sangamitta and Mahinda to Sri Lanka so that it could become the guardian of the Dhamma. .

Not long after, the Buddha Dhamma spread to Thailand and neighbouring countries that have remained in the Theravada tradition.

Fa Hsien, a Chinese pilgrim visited Sri Lanka in the 4th century and Buddhism spread further east to China to meld with its own culture and eventually propagate the Mahayana tradition. Over the following centuries Buddhism continued to spread to Japan, Korea, the region of Tibet, and eventually to the west, each place giving its own flavour to the Dhamma.

Due to these differences, as well as cultural and political differences, many nations have Buddhist traditions and communities that are quite distinct from each other. The Vesak event therefore, celebrates the common teaching of the Buddha and grounds its practice in mindfulness, which is shared by all. Through this, many new friendships have been made bringing together the diverse multiculture of nations that inhabit Ottawa.

Vesak in Ottawa continues in that tradition to bring people and communities together in the spirit of the Dhamma - loving-kindness, compassion, and mindfulness.

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Vesak Day in Ottawa: 19 May 2018

Vesak in Ottawa, Canada’s 151th Birthday and Asian Heritage – Celebrate Together –

at Ottawa City Hall

Tweet from Mayor Jim Watson

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Happy Vesak – Welcoming Mayor Jim Watson – May 2013

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2017 Event Photos

To advance the teachings, observances and cultures associated with Buddhism.

Speech by Ambassador Pisan Manawapat at Ottawa Vesak Day and Asian Heritage Month Celebrations

On 7 May 2017, His Excellency Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, Ambassador of Thailand to Canada, attended Vesak Day in Ottawa and the Asian Heritage festival

His Excellency Mr. Vijavat Isarabhakdi, Ambassador attends Vesak Day 2017 in Ottawa at Parliament Hill


Equality, Peace and Reconciliation in the World

In Buddhist tradition, Vesak is a day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.

This is an opportunity to reflect on his words in this time of conflict and suffering, such as; a generous heart, positive thoughts, kind speech leading to compassionate action are the things which renew humanity; and “may all life be delivered from suffering.” “Friendship is the only cure for hatred, the only guarantee of peace.” The way is in the heart. Join us in a renewed commitment to equality, peace and reconciliation in this world.

Practicing Generosity & Compassion

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Media Coverage:

Youtube: MPP MACLAREN’s Message at Parliament of Ontario .

Dr. N. F. Han received the Official Vesak Day proclamation from Mayor Jim Watson on May 2nd 2015

For the second consecutive year Ottawa has proclaimed Vesak Day

A BIG THANK YOU to ALL Sponsors, Volunteers and Everyone for the Support

Media Coverage:

Embassy News:

Ottawa Community News:

Youtube: Ottawa Vesak Celebrations

Ven Sanga Chanting for World Peace

Ven Sanga Walking in Ottawa City Hall May 4 2014

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Official Road Sign in Ottawa initiated by VesakinOttawa

Recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1999, Vesak Day provides an opportunity to promote the message of compassion, peace, equality, goodwill and devotion to humanity

In May 2002, the Government of Canada signed an official declaration to designate May as Asian Heritage Month

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Vesak in Ottawa and Asian Heritage Month - CELEBRATE TOGETHER Information

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Sunday, May 5, 2019

10:00 am to 2:00 pm