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Poya

Sri Lankan  Public Holidays National Holidays in Sri Lanka

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Every full moon (usually one a month) is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Each of the full moons have its own name and they are days to commemorate key events in Buddhism.

These full moon days are known as Poya. The Poya dates will change each year and certain Poya dates may be a day before or after the date of the full moon.

Poya Days in 2016

Month Date Name
January Saturday 23rd Duruthu Full Moon Poya
Marks the first of Buddha's three visits to Sri Lanka, on the first full moon after his enlightenment
February Monday 22nd Navam Full Moon Poya
Celebrates the appointment of Buddha's two chief disciples and the first-ever Buddhist Council held after the passing away of Lord Buddha
March Tuesday 22nd Madin Full Moon Poya
Marks Buddha's first visit to his hometown, Kapilavastu, following his enlightenmen
April Thursday 21st Bak Full Moon Poya
Celebrates Buddha's second visit to Sri Lanka to make peace between two warring local chiefs, who were also uncle and nephew
May Saturday 21st Vesak Full Moon Poya
Marks three key events in Buddhas life - his birthday, the enlightenment and his achievement of Nirvana
May Sunday 22nd Vesak Full Moon Poya Holiday
Marks three key events in Buddhas life - his birthday, the enlightenment and his achievement of Nirvana
June Sunday 19th Poson Full Moon Poya
Commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda
July Tuesday 19th Esala Full Moon Poya
Celebrates the Buddha's first sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka
August Wednesday 17th Nikini Full Moon Poya
Marks the retreat of the Bhikkhus following the Buddha's death, commemorated by a period of fasting and of retreat for the monastic communities
September Friday 16th Binara Full Moon Poya
Commemorates the establishment of the Buddhist Bikkhuni Order
October Saturday 15th Vap Full Moon Poya
Marks Buddha's preaching of Abhidamma to the gods in Tavatimsa and the end of the Buddhist period of fasting
November Monday 14th Ill Full Moon Poya
Commemorates Buddha's ordination of sixty disciples as the first missionaries
December Tuesday 13th Unduvap Full Moon Poya
Celebrates the arrival of the Bo tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka's daughter, Sangamitta

Shops and businesses are generally closed on Poya days, and the sale of alcohol and meat is forbidden.

If the full moon day falls on a weekend, then the public holiday is not moved to another day.


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