Poson Poya Day: Celebration of the Dawn of Buddhism

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As the full moon of June rises, illuminating the island with its serene glow, the people of Sri Lanka come together for the celebration of the Poson Poya. This day marks the religious significance of the arrival of Buddhism on the island over two millennia ago.

According to the Mahavamsa, the Great Chronicles of Sri Lanka, the arrival of Arahant Mahinda Thero marked the beginning of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. This significant event was resulted from the transformation of the Indian Emperor Asoka’s ‘Dig Vijaya’ (Conquest by Force) policy to the ‘Dharma Vijaya’ (Conquest by Righteousness) policy. Buddhist missionaries were sent to various countries including Sri Lanka with the goal of spreading the teachings of the Buddha. The great emperor Dharmashoka sent his son, Arahant Mahinda Thero to lead the delegation in Sri Lanka.

The encounter of King Devanampiyatissa and Arahant Mahinda accompanied by Arahants Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambala, Baddasala, Samanera Sumana and Bhanduka Upasaka took place at the ‘Missaka Pawwa‘ also known as Mihintale rock situated in Anuradhapura. As a result of the conversation that took place between Arahant Mahinda and the King, which is said to be a profound exchange of wisdom, led to the King’s conversion to Buddhism. This pivotal event lays the foundation for the origin of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Marking the importance of this event, we, Sri Lankans commemorate Poson with great enthusiasm. People engage in a range of various religious practices that reflect their deep devotion and reverence for the Buddha and his teachings. The temples are swarmed with people who wish to engage in ‘Sil’ programs to practice mindfulness and spiritual purity. Devotees partake in the noble practice of almsgiving, known as ‘Dana‘ that signifies the spirit of giving. Pilgrims dressed in white climb the ancient stone steps of Mihintale, the sacred rock where Arahant Mahinda first preached Dhamma to King Devanampiyatissa, with devotion and reflection on the great Dhamma.

On the night of the Poson Poya, the island becomes a canvas of colour and light. Every home, temple and public space is adorned with beautifully decorated lanterns. Every corner of the street flourished with free food stalls; ‘Dansals‘. Every street hymned with harmonies and musical notes of ‘Bhakthi Gee‘. It is important to remember that all of these various cultural activities serve as a beacon of harmony, peace and compassion, reminding us the importance of these values in our daily lives.

In the heart of Sri Lankans, Poson Poya is a timeless reminder of the profound impact of Buddhism on our culture and way of life. It is not just a commemoration of a historical event; it is a living tradition that inspires and unites us in our spiritual journey. So, may we all embrace the Wisdom of the Noble Doctrine preached by the Enlightenment One and reach the inner peace of personal and professional lives.

Wishing everyone a blessed and serene Poson Poya Day!

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