A great number of Buddhist Thais have joined activities to celebrate the 2,600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha, or Buddhajayanti, and the “World Day of Vesak,” or Visakha Puja. One of the highlights of the celebrations is the first International Buddhist Film Festival 2012, to be held from June 7 to 10 at SF World Cinema at CentralWorld in Bangkok.
Over 30 movies with Buddhist themes from many countries will be shown, including “The Light of Asia,” a silent feature about the Buddha’s life which was the world’s first film about Buddhism. The movie will be shown, accompanied by live music performed by Thai and international artists.
The films about Buddhism are divided into five programs. The first program, World Film Showcase International Buddhist Film Festival, will present movies reflecting several Buddhist perspectives in different forms, including documentaries, animations, and features.
In the second program, three leading monks will present movies containing references to Buddhist views. The third program, Asian Film Panorama, will present movies featuring the Buddha’s life that are both delightful and profound by moving, touching the lives of ordinary people. All these rarely shown movies from all over Asia were produced by leading filmmakers.
The fourth program, Thai Film Panorama, will present both long and short Thai movies, inspired and influenced by the Buddha’s life and precepts. In the fifth program, there will be a youth short film competition, which will screen 13 short films produced by students in higher education trained in special seminars on short filmmaking.
The Day of Vesak in 2012 marks the 2,600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha. It falls on the full day of the sixth lunar month, coinciding with June 4.
Visakha Puja commemorates the birth of the Buddha, his attainment of enlightenment, and his passing away. An extraordinary aspect of the occasion is that the three incidents took place on the same day but different years. The Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and passed away at the age of 80. He spent 45 years propagating his principle of freedom from suffering.
The Buddha taught mutual loving-kindness and forbearance for the sake of peace and happiness in society. Since these principles are shared by the United Nations Charter, the United Nations declared that Visakha Puja was a day of universal significance, and directed that observances be held, as appropriate, at the United Nations Headquarters and other United Nations offices each year.
Apart from focusing on spreading the Buddha’s teachings and Dhamma practice, the Buddhajayanti celebrations also include cultural performances to encourage Buddhists to have awareness about Buddhism and perform good deeds in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings.