The delight of the festival seasons in Sri Lanka is simply impressive. Moreover, the cultural and religious values that they highlight are more astonishing. Indeed, this is a fact that you know for sure if you have ever visited this land of marvels. However, when considering the amazing festivals in Sri Lanka throughout the year, the values and the splendor of the Poson festival can never be ignored. Besides, if you are a tourist, there is no wonder that this festival might be new for you. Hence, we thought of sharing with you the grandeur of the Poson Festival in Sri Lanka through this read.
Why Do We Celebrate the Poson Festival?
Sri Lankan Buddhists celebrate Poson to commemorate the introduction of Buddhism on this splendid island. Thus, apart from Vesak, Poson happens to be the next most important religious festival of Buddhists on this splendid island. This is also known as the ‘Poson Poya’ since this festival is celebrated on the Full Moon Poya day in the month of June, each year. Further, it is celebrated with much devoutness and festivity on this island.
History of Poson Poya
During that period, King Devanmpiyatissa was the ruler of this island. The King had a close relationship with Emperor Ashoka, in India. Moreover, the Great Buddhist monk, Arhat Mahinda was the son of Emperor Ashoka. Besides, the Emperor was working immensely for flourishing Buddhism. As a result of all these, the Emperor sent his son, Arhat Mahinda, to introduce Buddhism to Sri Lanka.
Accordingly, centuries back, Mahinda Thero arrived at the top of a rock, in the vicinity of the Anuradhapura. King Devanampiyatissa was hunting deers at that moment by that rock. The king heard someone call him ‘Tissa’. Indeed, this surprised him, since no one on this island called him by his first name without any honor or respect. However, the king was more astonished by the sight of a group of monks on the rock by him. Yet, he later realized that this was Arhat Mahinda, the son of Emperor Ashoka, who had arrived in Sri Lanka.
However, Arhat Mahinda did not share the noble teachings of Lord Buddha, at a stretch. Instead, he first asked a few tricky questions to make sure that the King was intelligent enough to understand the preachings of Dhamma. Fortunately, the King was wise enough to answer the tricky questions. And thereafter, Great Arahat Mahinda, preached the teachings of Dhamma to the King. The value of those preachings persuaded the King to embrace the Buddhist way of living. Accordingly, King Devanmapiyatissa turned into a Buddhist. Further, this incident and the greatness of Buddhism paved the way for almost all citizens in Sri Lanka by then to embrace Buddhism.
The rock and its surrounding site where Great Arhat Mahinda arrived is now popular as ‘Mihinthale’. This simply means the plateau of Mahinda. Besides, this rock still stands majestically, and there is a temple on this site in the present as well. The temple is known as the Ambasthale Dagoba, with the meaning, ‘the land with Mango trees and the temple’. Besides, this name signifies the tricky questions Arhat Mahinda asked King Devenampiyatissa as well since they were focused on the mango trees which were there in the surroundings by then.
In addition, it is a must mention that many of the devotees choose to visit ‘Mihinthale’ during the Poson season. It is more like a small hike to reach this rock, and the temple, since there is a stairway of around 1800 steps that lead the way to this wonderful sight. However, the verdant surroundings and the serenity of this religious site make it worth visiting Mihinthale. Moreover, the illuminations and the Poson decorations during the Poson festival allures any to Mihintale during the season of festivity.
Poson Festival Celebrations in Sri Lanka
So, by now, you might surely know how important the Poson festival is for Sri Lankan Buddhists. Thus, there is no doubt that Sri Lankans celebrate it with high festivity and devoutness. Besides, Vesak and Poson celebrations are more alike on this splendid island. The following briefs would further prove this fact.
Adhering to the Noble teachings of Buddhism, Sri Lankans engage themselves in a number of religious activities during the Poson festival. Among them, the sil programs, meditation programs, and sermons happen to be the most common. Apart from that, the rest of the Buddhists dress in white and visit temples, mostly in the evening. They offer flowers to the Lord Buddha, light lamps, and incense sticks, and observe the religion. Meanwhile, reading the holy books of Dhamma, and Bodhi Pooja (Religious Activities honoring the Bo tree) mainly happen towards the end of the day.
Just imagine, what a splendor would it be to see a number of devotees dressed in white in the serene environment of a temple, by the dazzling sunsets! With all these specialties, visiting a temple on a Poson day is simply a wonderful experience that should never be missed. And why not? They simply enhance the significance of Poson, as a festival of great piety as well.
Alms Giving and Dansal
Poson also creates an opportunity for the Buddhists to bring out the inner essence of Dhamma, by practicing virtuous deeds focusing on the festival season. Accordingly, many Buddhists organize alms givings, for the Sangha, as well as for the groups with need. Going beyond, many projects that help and sponsor the needy, also happen immensely during the season of Poson.
Apart from that, free food stalls of food and drinks can be seen all around the island. Similar to Vesak, these free food stalls focus on the groups who go city-rounds in enjoying the festivity of the amazing Poson celebrations. Thus, Poson not only brings out the real glamour of a wonderful celebration, but also the morality beneath the observances of the day.
Poson Decorations, and Pandals
Of course, the Poson festival is one of the most brilliant and delighting festivals in the Sri Lankan calendar of important days. And the noteworthy fact is that Busshists, as well as non-Buddhists in Sri Lankan, join hands with Poson celebrations, making it more colourful, in terms of festivity, as well as in terms of cultural aspects.
As same as during the Vesak, Sri Lankans hoist the Buddhist flag especially focusing on temples, public places, houses, as well as along the streets. They also make and hang lanterns, in varying shades and designs, adding a sense of creativity to the festival celebrations. Going beyond, Sri Lankans never forget to decorate religious places, houses, and other buildings with colorful illuminations.
In addition, the massive pandals, that feature paintings highlighting ancient Buddhist stories, and values can never be disregarded. The value they add to the festival with the morals, as well as with the delightful illuminations is indeed impressive. With all these decorations, Poson turns out to be one of the dazzling celebrations that you can ever imagine.
Bhakti Gee and Poson Festival Performances
Religious performances are also common during the Poson festival season. Bhakti Gee happens to be the main among them. Bhakti Gee is a musical performance that presents religious songs that highlight the value of Buddhism, the greatness of Lord Buddha, and the morals of life. Apart from that, several artistic performances, such as mime and puppet shows also take place in various places across the island, sharing with the public the essence of religious celebrations in an interesting way.
The Bottom Line
Above all, the Poson Festival is indeed a festival of sanctity, that reminds the greatness of the Dhamma. It is a festival that brings out the spiritual importance of life. It is a festival that encourages Buddhists to rethink shaping their lives with morality. Going beyond, it is a delightful festival with much color and gaiety, that makes Sri Lanka a land of glamour. So, all these facts sum up that the season of Poson is indeed one of the best times to visit Sri Lanka.
So, there is simply nothing for you to think twice. If you are ever planning to backpack on this charming island, consider the month of June. Visit a few religious attractions, explore the heritage of the ancient city of Anuradhapura, and stroll down a few paths on the night of Poson. Of course, it would be a worthwhile experience that makes you visit this island again and again! So, here we are, inviting you to witness the delight of the Poson festival in Sri Lanka. Happy and Safe Travelling!