The information was released at the opening ceremony of the "Cultural and religious exchange program in the five countries in the Mekong River basin” (Dhamma Yatra), held at the Prathatphangau pagoda in Chiang Saen district, Chiang Rai province, Thailand on October 15.
The trip by 53 Buddhist monks to the five countries - Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - will last from October 14 to 31.
This is the second time the program has been organized following the success of the first event in 2017. The religious activities held during the event aim to connect and enhance Buddhist cultural exchanges among the five Southeast Asian countries.
This religious event is known in Thailand as Dhamma Yatra. Dhamma means virtue, righteousness, social responsibility, order and the rule of the universe. Yatra means pilgrimage to the holy land. The Dhamma Yatra 2019 will include cross-border pilgrimages, Buddhist lectures at local temples, tree planting, praying, and others.
The Vietnamese delegation is led by Venerable Thích Thiện Tâm - Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Buddhist Shangha and includes monks from Ho Chi Minh City, Kien Giang and Hanoi.
At the opening ceremony, General Pairoj Panichsamai, representative of the Thai government, said that this is a great religious event for countries in the Mekong River basin as it shows the spirit of philanthropy from the heart, the consensus, perseverance with the work of promoting and protecting Buddhism, building the spirit of solidarity and attachment among the Buddhist monks and nuns of the five countries.
Dr. Supachai Verapuchong - President of Verapuchong Foundation (the co-organizer of the event along with the Bodhigaya Association and Bodhigayavijijalaya Academy) - said that this year’s event will start at the Prathatphangau pagoda of Thailand. After that it will move to Ratthanchan (Myanmar), Dien Bien Phu (Vietnam), Luang Prabang and Vienchan (Laos), Udonthani, Sakonnakhon, Nakhonphanom, Srisaket (Thailand), and close in Siemrat (Cambodia).
Commenting on the significance of the event to the Buddhist community, Venerable Thích Thiện Tâm said: “This event is the first step to help Buddhist monks from countries in the region know the importance of solidarity in Buddhism. It also help promote friendship, cooperation, and peace in the region in the spirit of the Buddha. Through the program, monks and Buddhist followers will share their experiences and knowledge about the harmonious coexistence in Buddhism, contributing to the solidarity, harmony of nations and the region as a whole. That is also the policy of the Vietnam Buddhist Shangha.”
After the opening ceremony, the program will start today (October 16) with a pilgrimage of more than 500 monks from Mae Sai district (Thailand) across the border to the town of Tachileik (Myanmar). Activities within the program in Dien Bien, Vietnam will take place from October 19 to October 22.
Some pictures of the opening ceremony:
Vietnamese Venerable Thích Thiện Tâm (right) - Vice Chairman of Vietnam Buddhist Shangha participated in the program.
Representatives of the local authorities and organizations participated in the second Dhamma Yatra
General Pairoj Panichsamai - representative of the local government - speaks at the ceremony.
Dr. Supachai Verapuchong - President of Verapuchong Foundation (the co-organizer of the event along with the Bodhigaya Association and Bodhigayavijijalaya Academy)
Vietnamese monks take pictures with the monks from other countries in the region.
Thai girls perform a traditional dance
Representatives of ethnic minorities of Thailand
Local officials and organizers press the button to open the program
A Thai monk presents a souvenir to Vietnamese Venerable Thích Thiện Tâm
The Bodhi tree planting ceremony