Hi all! Hope you are doing well. Last time we talked about the largest religious festival in Sri Lanka, which is Vesak Festival. As I promised you, today we will talk about the Poson Festival. It is the second most important and sacred religious festival for Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Unlike Vesak, Poson is not celebrated world wide, it is only celebrated by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The Poson Festival also doesn’t fall on a specific day of the year. It falls on the full moon day (Poya day) of the month of June.
What is the Importance of Poson Festival?
There is a big reason why we Buddhists celebrate Poson Festival in large scale. Poson poya (full moon day) is the day when the Arahath (enlightened) Mahinda Thero (Son of famous King Dharmashoka) brought the Lord Buddha’s Teachings to Sri Lanka from Bharath/Jambu Deepa (India today). That is the initiation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Even though some influences of Buddhism have already been received from India (like the arrival of Prince Vijaya), it is only after the arrival of Arahath Mahinda Thero (monk), the Buddhism is properly introduced to and established in the island.
You might like to know more about the interesting meeting of King Devanampiya Tissa and Arahath Mahinda Thero. King Devanampiya Tissa was ruling the Sri Lanka. It was the full moon day of the month of June. He was hunting deers in Mihinthalaya area when Mihinda Thero arrived. He was running after a deer when he suddenly heard ‘Tissa! Tissa!!’. He was very curious to see who was calling him by his name. Then he saw Mahinda Thero and his company on the top of Mihinthala rock.
Mahinda Thero explained that they are followers of Lord Buddha and came from ‘Jambu Deepa’ (India) due to compassion towards the people in Sri Lanka. Mahinda Thero wanted to test the intelligence of the king to ensure that the king will understand the deep teachings of Lord Buddha. So he asked few questions from the king.
Mahinda Thero: King, what is this tree?
King: It is a Mango tree.
Mahinda Thero: Are there any other Mango trees other than this?
King: Yes, there are a lot more Mango trees.
Mahinda Thero: Are there any other trees other than Mango Trees?
King: Yes, there are a lot more other types of trees.
Mahinda Thero: Are there any trees other than those Mango trees and those other types of trees?
King: Yes, this tree.
Mahinda Thero: Do you have relatives king?
King: Yes, I have a lot of relatives.
Mahinda Thero: Is there any non-relatives of you?
King: Yes, there are non-relatives more than relatives.
Mahinda: Is there anyone in this country who are neither your relative nor your non-relative?
King: Yes, it’s me.
Arahath Mahinda Thero was very satisfied about the intelligence of the king. Mahinda Thero preached Buddhism to the king and he immediately became a follower of Buddhism. Since then the King Devanampiya Tissa worked very hard to establish Buddhism in Sri Lanka. That is how Sri Lanka received Buddhism. So Buddhists celebrate Poson Poya day as a religious festival to recall that.
Poson Festival is not colourful as much as Vesak Festival. There are much less domestic decorations for Poson Festival. But there are large lanterns and Thorana. Just like in Vesak there are Poson Zones also. And there is some considerable amount of Dansals (alms-giving centers) also. Devotees tend to visit certain places for the Poson Festival such as Anuradhapura, Mihinthalaya (to where Mahinda Thero came) and Sithulpawwa.
A Poson Zone
This year I was able to visit a Poson Zone and I captured a few images there. It was organized by ‘National Youth Services Council’ in Maharagama area. But be warned that this Poson Zone is not even close to the Vesak Zone I showed you with regard of beauty and colourfulness. Anyhow, see the below images I captured in the Poson Zone.
There were a lot of lanterns, but due to the heavy crowd, I couldn’t take many photos.
See the below image carefully. It resembles the story I told you above, the arrival of Mahinda Thero.
If you look carefully, you will see Mahinda Thero and the company are on the rock, the king is worshiping at the bottom of the rock and the deer is sitting nearby.
If you have read my previous article, the above lantern might be familiar to you. The same lantern was in Gangarama Vesak Zone.
That’s about the Poson Festival in Sri Lanka in brief. If you like to know further details please let me know, just leave a comment below. See you in the next article.