Every full moon day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. These days are known as Poya, and each has its own name. In June it is called Poson Full Moon Poya. This day we celebrate that Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka.
Many buddhist visit their temple this day. It is also common to give something to people in need or the public in general.
We decided to do something here in our hotel as well. So ice-cream for everyone it was!
The weather was not quite on our side. It rained and was windy most of the day. But it seems that people still like to eat ice cream, and we at times we had a long line outside the hotel. This was such a great experience, and we need to do something similar next day as well!
Fun facts about Full Moon and Public Holidays.
Sri Lanka is one of the countries in the world with most holidays. As a mixed country with different religions, they have chosen to embrace all. Muslim, Hindu, Christian and Buddhist Holidays are all celebrated! As a tourist visiting the country all the festivals, rituals and parties can be very interesting (yet confusing).
On top of this come the full moon days, and most public offices are closed on Sundays. A common joke is that banks are closed more days than they are open!
These are the full moon days:
- January – Duruthu Poya
- February – Navam Poya
- March – Medin Poya
- April – Bak Poya
- May – Vesak Poya
- June – Poson Poya
- July – Esala Poya
- August – Nikini Poya
- September – Binara Poya
- October – Vap Poya
- November – Il Poya
- December – Unduvap Poya
The most holy and special of them all is Vesak Poya in May. Buddhist believe that it was on this day that Buddha was born, reached enlightenment, and died. Vesak is celebrated with festivals and houses and streets are decorated with special lanterns.
The Esala Poya celebrates Buddha’s first sermon and also the arrival of the Tooth Relic at the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. This is the grand celebration in Kandy, with Perahera´s (parades of dancers, drummers, fire and elephants) for an entire week.
Shops and businesses are generally closed on Poya days, and the sale of alcohol and meat is forbidden. (In tourist areas, however, the rules seems to be less strict)