1st July 2015, the day after tomorrow, is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, because it’s a full moon day. It is called Adhi-Esala Poya. Another full moon day is Esala Poya 30 days later in the same month of July (31st).
Adhi Poya Days are extra Poya Days, not celebrated every year but only in those years with 13 full moon days. Then these “extra Poya Days” are inserted into the Sinhalese Buddhist calendar to ensure that it stays in sync with the Gregorian calendar, which is the international solar calendar of Western European origin.
The Indian and Sri Lankan astrological full moon days do not always coincide with the astronomical full moon days you will find marked in Gregorian calendars, the dates can differ one day.
The Full moon is important to Buddhists all around Asia. Poya Days are Uposatha Days, Poya being the Sinhalese word for Uposatha, which is the Pali term found in the Buddhist Holy Scriptures, Tipitaka. One meaning of “adhi” is “fasting”. Uposatha is the highest regularly celebrated rite in Buddhist monastic life, namely the assembly of monks to purify their order by chanting the rules of the order. Poya Days are also observed by practicing Buddhist laymen, they visit temple for religious observances. Generally shops and banks are closed in Sri Lanka on Poya Days, the sale of alcohol prohibeted, usually meat is not sold, either.
The Poya Days mark the beginning of a Buddhist month. For example, the month of Esala begins with Esala Poya Day and ends on Nikini Poya Day.
Vesak Poya Day in May:
Triple anniversary of birth, enlightment and final Nirvana of the Buddha.
Poson Poya day in June:
Introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda arriving in Mihintale
Esala Poya Day in July:
Buddha’s first sermon is setting in motion the Dharma Wheel
Nikini Poya Day in August:
First Buddhist Council was held to collect the words of the Buddha
Binara Poya Day in September:
Buddha visits the heaven to preach to his deceased mother and celestial beings
Vap Poya day in October:
Conclusion of Buddha's preaching of the Abhidharma, the third part of the Scriptures
Ill Poya Day in November:
Commissioning of 60 disciples to disperse Buddha’s teachings
Unduvap Poya Day in December:
Arrival of the Bo-tree sapling and introduction of the nun’s order in Sri Lanka
Duruthu Poya Day in January:
Buddha's first visit to Sri Lanka in the first year after enlightenment
Navam Poya Day in February:
Sariputta and Maha Moggalana, two leading disciples, enter the order
Medin Poya Day in March:
Buddha visits his hometown Kapilavastu to preach to his family
Bak Poya Day in April:
Second visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka settling a dispute among the Nagas near Jaffna
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