August 10, 2019, Leuven, Belgium – The Fourth General Assembly of Lumbini-Kapilvastu Global Campaign Belgium (LKGCB) was held on Saturday, the 10th August 2019 at Genadedal Meeting Center in Kessel-Lo, Belgium. The LKGCB is a global movement aimed at promoting peace and non-violence messages of Lord Buddha and highlighting Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha as a World Peace City.
The inauguration part of the assembly was moderated by LKGCB secretary Ms Yogita Thapa. The inauguration ceremony was performed by lighting candles by the chief guest – His Excellency Mr. Lok Bahadur Thapa (the ambassador of Nepal to Benelux and the EU) and special guests – Her Excellency Ms. Grace Asirwatham (the ambassador of Sri Lanka to Belgium and the EU) and Ms Ranjana (Shweta) Khadka (President of Shweta Shree Foundation). More than 50 participants representing various organizations attended the opening session including following guests-
- Chief Guest – His Excellency Mr. Lok Bahadur Thapa, the ambassador of Nepal to Benelux and the EU
- Special Guest – Her Excellency Ms. Grace Asirwatham, the ambassador of Sri Lanka to Belgium and the EU
- Special Guest – Ms Ranjana (Shweta) Khadka, President of Shweta Shree Foundation, Actress, Producer and Business Entrepreneur
- Mr Luciano Corsini, President, Active Intercultural Federation, Belgium (AIF+), Mr Gust Haverbeke, Secretary of AIF+ and Miguel Angel Estrada Romero, Educational Employee AIF+.
- Mr Danny Verhasselt, General Secretary, Belgium-Nepal Friendship Association (BNFA).
Dr. Rajendra Bari, general secretary of LKGCB, welcomed all participants to the assembly and presented interesting global facts on violence, poverty and mental health issues. He mentioned that the need to promote peace and non-violence or address mental health is higher than ever before. Therefore, LKGCB activities are important to promote peace and non-violence. Dr. Bari also presented some inspirational quotes from Budhha that are more relevant today than ever before.
Speaking during the program, Mr. Luciano Corsini, appreciated LKGCB mission to promote peace and non-violence and expressed his support to carry out various activities in future. Similarly, Ms Rajani Pradhan (NRN Women Coordinator) also appreciated LKGCB activities and wished all the best for future. General secretary of BNFA, Mr Danny Verhasselt, explained the importance of Buddha and Lumbini and his experience of visiting Lumbini and Kapilvastu. He appreciated LKGCB activities in promoting the message of Buddha and extended best wishes for bright future of LKGCB. Finally, Mr Verhasselt expressed his interest to work together with LKGCB to achieve common goals.
During the program, Dr. Rajendra Bari provided an overview of past LKGCB activities and showed some photographs of those activities. Global Coordinator of LKGC, Mr Ram Kumar Shrestha sent his message from Australia which was read by LKGCB executive board member Ms. Rashmi Niroula. Mr Shrestha emphasized the need to promote peace and correct misconstrued information about the birth place of Lord Buddha. Nepali community and Nepal government have already established Buddha statues in Peace Palace, Hague and UNESCO headquarters. As establishing peace in the planet is one of the most important objectives of UN, this Global Movement together with Nepal government, therefore, would like to present Peace Symbol Buddha statues to establish in UN and in many globally important places as part of Peace Movement.
Special guest Ms. Shweta Khadka showed appreciation for LKGCB’s goal to promote peace and non-violence message of Lord Buddha and expressed her support for various LKGCB activities. In addition, she provided more details about Shweta Shree Foundation and the construction of 53 houses for Majhi community in Sindhupalchowk in Nepal. Majhi community is among the poorest people whose houses were destroyed during the heavy earthquake in 2015. To complete the construction of all 53 houses, Ms Khadka is requesting additional financial support from all relevant people and organizations. LKGCB, recognized her excellent humanitarian support for the Majhi community and therefore, provided a token of appreciation during the program. In addition, LKGCB requested everyone to support Ms Khadka in her mission to complete the construction of Majhi Basti in a timely manner.
Speaking during the program, Her Excellency Ms. Grace Asirwatham mentioned that Buddhism brings us together because Buddhism is a way of life and Lumbini is a sacred place for all Buddhists. She further explained that Buddha was born under a tree, got enlightenment under a tree and finally left this world under a tree. This indicates green environment during those times and therefore we should preserve the green environment in Lumbini and make sure that spiritual nature and environment is not lost. There is a need to put more efforts in developing Lumbini-Kapilvastu area and improve facilities for visitors. She was involved in leading the calls for international recognition of Vesak Day or Buddha Jayanti at the UN and UN agencies. Now, international day of Vesak Day is celebrated by the UN and UN agencies every year, which is a great achievement.
His Excellency Mr. Lok Bahadur Thapa, expressed his support and appreciation of LKGCB activities. He emphasized the importance of Lumbini and Kapilvastu sites as perennial sources of spiritual knowledge and wisdom for Buddhists and all other people in the world. He further explained future government plans to preserve cultural and religious sanctity, to implement Lumbini Development Plan, to complete the construction of Gautam Buddha International Airport as well as to develop internal (within Nepal) and external (India-Sri Lanka-Bangladesh) Buddhist circuits for visitors.
Invited guests, who could not participate in the assembly because of other engagements, extended their support and best wishes for the event via email. These guests include –
- Koen Geens (Federal Minister of Justice, Belgium).
- Mohamed Ridouani (Mayor of Leuven Municipality).
- Els Van Hoof (Former Senator and Federal Parliament Member Belgium).
- Paulo Casaca (Executive Director of the South Asia Democratic Forum).
- Axel Goethals (CEO of the European Institute for Asian Studies).
- Haxthausen, (Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in Brussels).
- His Excellency Mr. Martin KOTTHAUS (the ambassador of Germany to Belgium).
In the concluding remarks, President of Lumbini-Kapilvastu Global Campaign, Belgium, Mr Damodar Prasad Acharya emphasized the importance of Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha, as a World Peace city and efforts required to correct misinformation about Buddha’s birthplace. He mentioned that through the action of LKGC, google has corrected the search engine to display Lumbini in Nepal after searching the Birth Place of Budhha. In addition, Mr Acharya reminded previous work of LKGCB in collaboration with former ambassador of Nepal to Belgium and the EU, Mr. Ram Mani Pokhrel (who was inspired by LKGCB) in providing correct information about the birth place of Budhha to various countries in Europe. Mr Acharya would like to remind all Nepalese to pay more interest, attention and participation in LKGCB activities in future. Finally, Mr Acharya concluded the opening session of the fourth General Assembly of LKGCB by expressing gratitude towards all guests for their participation and thanking all participants for their contribution to the assembly.