International Vesak Day- Sri Lanka’s Contribution
In 1950, Prof. Gunapala Malalasekara, on the recommendation made by Ven. Piyaratana proposed that Vesak Day should be celebrated internationally. This was during the World Buddhist Congress held in Sri Lanka.
Later, in 1999, a proposal tabled at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar was adopted and the “International Day of Observance for Vesak” was accepted by the UNGA.
Consequently, in December 1999, UNGA, at its 54th conference, by its resolution 54/115 of 1999, officially recognized the celebration of the Day of Vesak, thus acknowledging “the contribution that Buddhism, one of the oldest religions in the world, has made for over two and a half millennia and continues to make to the spirituality of humanity[i]”. During the following year, in 2000, the UN Day of Vesak Celebration was held for the first time at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, with representatives from over 34 countries. And in 2016 Vesak Day was declared an ‘optional holiday’ at the UN for the first time under its resolution 69/250.