Esala Full Moon Poya is observed every year on the full moon in the eighth lunar month. This year, it will be held on July 20. The holiday commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon and the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka.
History of Esala Full Moon Poya
Several legends are associated with Esala Full Moon Poya Day, like the conception of ‘Siddhārtha Gautama’ or ‘Buddha’ by Queen Māyā, the Great Renunciation, and Buddha’s first sermon. According to Sri Lankan myth, it was Esala Full Moon Poya Day when Queen Māyā dreamed she was being carried by four ‘devas’ or ‘spirits’ to Lake Anotatta in the Himalayas, where a white baby elephant circled her thrice and entered her womb from the right side of her abdomen. Queen Māyā conveyed the good news to her husband, and soon, Siddhartha Gautama was born.
Around three decades later, seeing the great suffering of the poor and needy on a visit outside the palace on Esala Full Moon Poya Day, Gautama abandoned his life of luxury and set out to find enlightenment. A few years later, after attaining Buddhahood, Gautama delivered his first sermon to the Five Ascetics: Kondanna, Vappa, Bhaddiya, Mahanama, and Assaji, on Esala Full Moon Poya Day.
Sri Lankan legends state that when Buddha died in 543 B.C., his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kushinagar, modern-day India, where Khema, his disciple, retrieved his left canine tooth. Subsequently known as “The Tooth Relic,” the tooth was taken to Sri Lanka after a conflict in Kalinga in modern-day India. The Tooth Relic is revered by thousands in Sri Lanka, so much so that a new palace was built to enshrine the relic every time the capital of Sri Lanka changed. It was eventually taken to Kandy, where it is kept in the Temple of the Tooth. Every year, on Esala Full Moon Poya, thousands descend on the temple to catch a glimpse of the tooth.
Esala Full Moon Poya timeline
The British take over Ceylon, which is in current-day Sri Lanka.
The first 10,000 Tamils arrive in Sri Lanka to work in coffee plantations as indentured laborers.
George Turnour publishes an English translation of the “Mahavamsa” or “the Great Chronicle,” a historical account of the dynasty of Sri Lanka.
Rajapakse defeats former army chief Sarath Fonseka as he is re-elected as president.
Esala Full Moon Poya FAQs
Does Sri Lanka have a flag?
Sri Lanka has one of the oldest flags in the world. It is known as the “Lion Flag.”
Does Sri Lanka have different religions?
Yes. The Sri Lankan national flag is illustrated with bo leaves representing Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam — the three major religions in Sri Lanka.
What is the national sport of Sri Lanka?
In 1991, volleyball was officially declared the national sport of Sri Lanka.
How to Observe Esala Full Moon Poya
Visit Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is a culturally-rich country. If you like learning about different cultures, take a trip to the country. You’ll enjoy learning about Sri Lankan traditions, festivals, and people.
Learn about Sri Lanka
There is more to Sri Lanka than meets the eye. So, if you wish to pay your respects on Esala Full Moon Poya Day, conduct some research about Sri Lanka and its culture.
Share the holiday
The best memories are those that we create with others. So, have fun sharing the holiday with the people in your life. You can share it online or offline.
5 Interesting Facts About Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka has several nicknames
Sri Lanka is popularly nicknamed the “Pearl of the Indian Ocean” and the “Teardrop of India.”
Sri Lanka has many animals
Sri Lanka has a large variety of animals.
Tea is a major business
Sri Lanka is a leading tea producer and exporter.
Sri Lanka gave us cinnamon
Sri Lanka is a leading exporter of cinnamon.
Sri Lanka is progressive
Sri Lanka was the first country to appoint a female prime minister in 1960.
Why Esala Full Moon Poya is Important
It keeps traditions alive
The holiday helps to maintain the traditional practices in Sri Lanka, keeping the culture alive and vibrant. The people remember their history and respect it.
It honors religion
Esala Full Moon Poya Day honors the religious beliefs of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka, just like Eid honors Muslims’ beliefs, and Christmas celebrates the beliefs of Christians. It allows people to revitalize their faith every year.
It creates unity
The holiday is an occasion where people from all religions can meet in celebration. It brings people together, creating a sense of unity in the community.
Esala Full Moon Poya dates