On May 26, the White House for the first time hosted a celebration of Vesak, a holiday commemorating the Buddha’s birthday, death, and enlightenment. The event—organized by Wangmo Dixey, president of the International Buddhist Association of America—featured a candle lighting with Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff and prayers by leaders from three major Buddhist traditions. The Most Venerable Uparatana, a Sri Lankan American, represented the Theravada tradition; Rev. Marvin Harada, a Japanese American and Shin Buddhist bishop, the Mahayana tradition; and Venerable Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche (Wangmo Dixey’s father), a Tibetan American who founded Dharma College (Berkeley), the Vajrayana tradition. “This is the first time in our Buddhist American history to have the lighting of the lamp in the White House,” Dixey told Tricycle. Her organization has been trying to set up the event since 2016.
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