Unduvap Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka in 2024

Unduvap Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka in 2024
Row of Buddha statues at Ganagarama temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka Image via Deposit Photos
  How long until Unduvap Full Moon Poya?
Unduvap Full Moon Poya
  Dates of Unduvap Full Moon Poya in Sri Lanka
2025 Sri Lanka Thu, Dec 4 National Holiday
2024 Sri Lanka Sat, Dec 14 National Holiday
2023 Sri Lanka Tue, Dec 26 National Holiday
2022 Sri Lanka Wed, Dec 7 National Holiday
2021 Sri Lanka Sat, Dec 18 National Holiday

Celebrates the arrival of the Bo tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka's daughter, Sangamitta

When is Unduvap Full Moon Poya?

This public holiday in Sri Lanka takes place on the full moon day of Unduvap, the ninth month in the Sinhalese calendar.

It usually falls in December in the Western calendar.

History of Unduvap Full Moon Poya

Celebrates the arrival of the Bo tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka’s daughter, Sangamitta.

Lord Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment by meditating under a Bodhi Tree in Bihar, India. In the 3rd century BC, Sangamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka brought a sapling from this Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, arriving on Unduvap Poya day.

The sapling was planted in 288 BC by King Devanampiya Tissa, in the Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, where it still grows today. This makes it the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date.

Today the tree is one of the most sacred relics for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world. Thousands of devotees come to Anuradhapura on Unduvap Poya day to pay homage to the sacred Bo tree and observe the five precepts in order to lead exemplary lives.

Anuradhapura was a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years. The city was abandoned after an invasion in 993 AD. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again. It was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982.

What are Poya?

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.

On Poya days, shops and businesses will usually close and the sale of alcohol and meat is forbidden.

Sources: UNESCO World Heritage Sites

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