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Poya Days in Sri Lanka

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. If there are two Poya days in a month, then the name of the second will be preceded by the word Adhi (Sinhalese: half).

Poya Days in 2019

Month Date Poya Name
January Sunday 20th Duruthu Full Moon Poya
Marks the first of Buddha's three visits to Sri Lanka, on the first full moon after his enlightenment
February Tuesday 19th 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 Wednesday 20th Madin Full Moon Poya
Marks Buddha's first visit to his hometown, Kapilavastu, following his enlightenmen
April Friday 19th 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 18th Vesak Full Moon Poya
Marks three key events in Buddhas life - his birthday, the enlightenment and his achievement of Nirvana
May Sunday 19th Vesak Full Moon Poya Holiday
Marks three key events in Buddhas life - his birthday, the enlightenment and his achievement of Nirvana
June Sunday 16th Poson Full Moon Poya
Commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda
July Tuesday 16th Esala Full Moon Poya
Celebrates the Buddha's first sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka
August Wednesday 14th 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 13th Binara Full Moon Poya
Commemorates the establishment of the Buddhist Bikkhuni Order
October Sunday 13th 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 Tuesday 12th Ill Full Moon Poya
Commemorates Buddha's ordination of sixty disciples as the first missionaries
December Wednesday 11th 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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