Poson Festival of Sri Lanka

By Buddhistdoor International Sean Mós
Buddhistdoor Global | 2014-06-19 |
Fire dancers at Poson procession, Kadugannawa. From: Sean MósFire dancers at Poson procession, Kadugannawa. From: Sean Mós
Mihintale where Mihindu met the King of Sri Lanka. From: www.steuratholidays.comMihintale where Mihindu met the King of Sri Lanka. From:
Home made Poson lamps. From: www.htlleisure.comHome made Poson lamps. From:
Painting of meeting between Mihindu and the King of Sri Lanka. From: www.buddharashmi.orgPainting of meeting between Mihindu and the King of Sri Lanka. From:
Pres. Mahinda Rajapaksa at Poson activities. From: www.coloumbopage.comPres. Mahinda Rajapaksa at Poson activities. From:
Twelve million Buddhists in Sri Lanka celebrated the Poson festival on the full moon day of June 12, 2014. Despite the torrential rains, cities and temples were brimming over with an influx of visitors and pilgrims of all ages. Some of the cities had organized Pandols and lamps depicting the story of Poson and the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Pandols tell Buddhist stories by using photo banners, lighting and music. Jataka stories are drawn on large boards mounted on structures that can be as high as 30 feet. Houses sparkled with brightly coloured coconut oil lamps, and decorations that turned neighborhoods into lively places that opened doors to visitors. Numerous white clad pilgrims worshipped at temples, observing the Ten Precepts and helping out in community activities.
Poson is a significant annual event in the Sri Lankan Buddhist calendar which consecrates the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BCE during the reign of King Devanam Piyatissa. Following his conversion to Buddhism, Emperor Ashoka of India took a great interest in spreading Buddhism to neighboring countries. Ashoka sent emissaries bearing the dhamma’s message to nine countries. Consequently, it is said that Mihindu, the enlightened monk who was the son of the emperor Asoka, arrived in Sri Lanka with seven companions bringing the message of Buddhism and its noble eight fold path, to be delivered to the King of Sri Lanka. It is said that on this day, following an elaborate discussion with Mihindu, the King of Sri Lanka converted to Buddhism and made it the official religion of the island.
The Poson Festival of 2014 was held in the ancient city of Anuradhapura with the participation of Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. The president took part in a holy relic placement ritual at the Sandagiri stupa of Anuradhapura as well as in alms giving ceremonies at Sri Maha Bodhi tree. More than two million visitors were seen in the vicinity of the holy city of Anuradhapura and Mihintale Rock which is supposedly the place where the King of Sri Lanka was met by Mihindu the Enlightened and his group of followers. To commemorate the event, more than 200 dansals (free food stands) were organized in the Anuradhapura area. Pilgrims and guests were treated to free meals, desserts, snacks, and drinks throughout the full moon poya day. Similarly, such Poson festivals were observed in most major cities with the participation of government officials. The ancient city of Polonnaruwa, the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, and Kelaniya Temple were some of the other locations where Poson was celebrated.
Meanwhile the public health inspectors’ association registered 5325 dansals  across the island. Special attention was given to meeting strict standards of hygiene of food and water given away at these venues. Despite the heavy rains large crowds gathered at such free food outlets enjoying their time out on the poya holiday while tasting a free meal or a drink. The Poson celebrations concluded towards the evening with dhamma sermons, religious music recitals, and street processions. In Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, a religious music festival was organized with the participation of both amateur musicians and a number of renowned artists. A street procession was seen in the small city of Kadugannawa, in Kandy district on 13th June complete with fire dancers, drummers, and elephants.
Poson is essentially an authentic Sri Lankan Buddhist festival in the making. Above all, it reminds the Buddhists of Sri Lanka about the essential teachings of dhamma. Therefore, it is a time for celebrations as well a time for giving, caring about fellow human beings, and observing the meditative path as instructed by the dhamma.

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Sri Lankan Panodols

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