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Vesak celebration special part of Buddhist tradition

Published: 09:25PM May 5th, 2011

The birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha will be celebrated at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s first ever Vesak Day celebration at Lewis North Chapel on Saturday.

“The event is very special in the Buddhist calendar,” said Chaplain Somya Malasri, who is coordinating the day’s activities.

In fact, it’s the most important day of the year in Theravada Buddhism, the primary denomination in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. But this event isn’t just for the Buddhist community on base. Everyone is invited to come learn and celebrate.

Malasri’s choosing to hold the celebrations a little earlier than usual — Vesak falls on May 17 this year, but the event on Saturday will allow community members and local monks to get involved.

“I’d like to invite the monks from off post to celebrate together,” he said.

The free event will include traditional Buddhist chanting, blessings and food. Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese dance groups have been invited to perform.

There will also be a five-minute meditation session.

“They can find peace of mind while they’re here, so they get something,” Malasri said.

In the end, the event will give the whole base community the chance to get to know their neighbors and get a taste of what Buddhism is all about.

Vesak Day will be at Lewis North Chapel Saturday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. For more information contact Chaplain Somya Malasri at somya.malasri@us.army.mil or at 365-8753.