Due to the pandemic, the annual Vesak Festival and Buddha’s Birthday Celebration jointly held by Buddhist temples in the GTA was held virtually on May 22, 2021. Around 500 participants joined through social platforms such as Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook simultaneously. During the celebration, Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, delivered his good wishes in a pre-recorded video; Ontario Premier Doug Ford also delivered his good wishes through the mail.
The “Virtual Vesak Festival 2021 Buddha’s Birthday Celebration” event was held jointly by Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, West End Buddhist Temple, Cham Shan Temple, and Karma Sonam Dargye Lin. This year is the 10th anniversary of this jointly held event. The chairman of the celebration committee, Dr. Bhante Saranapala, stated that even though grand outdoor celebrations had to be canceled this year due to the pandemic, under the collaborative efforts of the four organizing temples and with the support of IT and website designers, this year’s virtual celebration has attracted more people from overseas to join this joyous celebration.
The Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, Venerable Chueh Fan, the Abbot of Cham Shan Temple, Venerable Da Yi, and Lama Tenzin each gave a speech on behalf of the organizers. Venerable Chueh Fan stated, “Technology is being fully leveraged to connect the hearts and faith of all Buddhists this year; as long as we hold on to the concept of “We Are One”, Buddha’s love, compassion, and positive energy will be shared to the public through today’s event.”
During the 2-hour celebration, praise and prayers from Mahayana Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism were dedicated to everyone for good health and auspiciousness and wish for world peace. The celebration also replayed clips showing the 2019 Vesak Celebration Parade, Dharma Service, and Buddha Bathing Ceremony. Besides that, the 11 temples also showcased the origins of Buddha’s Birthday Celebration, the introduction of Humanistic Buddhism. They also prepared different ways of celebrating Buddha’s Birthday in different cultures, and traditional activities such as Buddhist singing performances, dancing performances, meditation guidance, and other activities on that day.
All participants greatly enjoyed this opportunity to celebrate this important event.
Since the start of the pandemic, The Mississauga Food Bank has seen a 61% increase in the number of clients requiring emergency food support. In the spirit of Buddha’s compassion, the committee of the “Virtual Vesak Festival 2021 Buddha’s Birthday Celebration” launched a donation drive to help the Mississauga Food Bank.