The Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS) held a ceremony on May 29 to commemorate Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc, who set himself on fire 50 years ago to protest against the repression of Buddhists by the American-supported Saigon Government.

At the event which took place in Hanoi-based Quan Su pagoda, Buddhist monks and nuns and followers remembered the great sacrifice of Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc, as well as prayed for peace and prosperity for people in Vietnam and around the world.

Most Venerable Thich Quang Duc was born as Lam Van Tuat in Van Khanh commune, Van Ninh district, the central province of Khanh Hoa in 1897.

He actively fought for religious freedom and equality in the southern region in 1963 when it was governed by the US-backed Saigon administration.

On June 11, 1963, when a procession of over 800 Buddhist monks, nuns and followers arrived at the intersection of Phan Dinh Phung boulevard (now Nguyen Dinh Chieu Street) and Le Van Duyet Street (now Cach Mang Thang Tam Street), Thich Quang Duc soaked himself in petrol, struck a match and set himself on fire.

He was honoured as a Bodhisattva in 1964 after the unified VBS came into being.

Addressing the event, Most Venerable Thich Thanh Nhieu, Permanent Vice President of the VBS Executive Council said Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation sparked a sense of national solidarity among Buddhist sects across the country.

Vietnamese Buddhists need to exert themselves to develop the VBS, and promote the patriotic tradition and the links between Buddhism and the nation, Nhieu said.

Speaking at the ceremony, Vice President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Le Ba Trinh affirmed that since it entered Vietnam , Buddhism has always accompanied the nation in the course to bring peace and happiness to people, evidenced by Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc’s self-immolation.

Till June 11, the VBS branches nationwide are to organise a series of commemorative ceremonies and conferences highlighting Bodhisattva Thich Quang Duc’s contributions along with requiems for soldiers and people fallen during wars.-VNA