Esala Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka in 2024

Esala Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka in 2024
  How long until Esala Full Moon Poya?
Esala Full Moon Poya
  Dates of Esala Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka
2025 Sri Lanka Thu, Jul 10 National Holiday
2024 Sri Lanka Sat, Jul 20 National Holiday
2023 Sri Lanka Mon, Jul 3 National Holiday
2022 Sri Lanka Wed, Jul 13 National Holiday
2021 Sri Lanka Fri, Jul 23 National Holiday

Celebrates the Buddha's first sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka

Related holidays

When is Esala Full Moon Poya?

Esala Poya takes place on the full moon in the eighth lunar month, usually in July.

This public holiday Celebrates the Buddha's first sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka.

History of Esala Full Moon Poya

Buddha gave his first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares, India and founded the Buddhist sangha (monkhood) about 2,500 years ago.

In the sermon, which is known as 'Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion', the Buddha first spelt out the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.

According to Sri Lankan legends, when Buddha died in 543 BC, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kushinagar and his left canine tooth was retrieved by his disciple, Khema. It came to Sri Lanka after a conflict in Kalinga in modern-day India.

Over the years, every time the capital of Sri Lanka changed, a new palace was built to enshrine the relic. Finally, it was brought to Kandy where it is kept in the Temple of the Tooth.

The lunar month of Esala is known as the season of festivals, most notably the great Esala Perahera (religious procession) in Kandy, Sri Lanka’s most extravagant festival during which devotees fire-walk and indulge in various forms of ritual self-mutilation such as piercing their skin with hooks and weights, and driving skewers through their cheeks and tongues.

During Esala, there are also elephant peraheras at Kataragama, Dondra and Bellanwila (a southern Colombo suburb) and a big seven-day celebration at Unawatuna, during which thousands descend on the village and beach.

Poya full moons

Every full moon (usually one a month) is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Each of the full moons has 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.

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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