A very unique day, Navam Full Moon Poya Day falls on the first full moon day in February and this year, that takes place on February 24. This day is the second most important Buddhist celebration and is observed in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Tabaung. It celebrates the creation of the first-ever Buddhist Council and the appointment of the first two chief disciples of Gautama Buddha. The council was established three months after Buddha’s death. The teachings of Buddha had been passed onto his disciples through the code of ethics for all Buddhist monks — Vinaya. Let’s learn more about this auspicious holiday in Sri Lanka.
History of Navam Full Moon Poya Day
Navam Full Moon Poya Day is a Buddhist holiday that occurs every month in Sri Lanka. It is observed every full moon for the cleansing of the mind and restoration of peace and joy. The Buddhists use the Lunar calendar for religious observances, bringing the total Poyas per year to 13 or sometimes 14. On these days, shops and businesses are closed, and the consumption of alcohol and meat is forbidden. Practicing Sinhalese Buddhists also visit temples for religious observances such as prayers and meditations. Each month, Navam Full Moon Poya usually falls on the Gregorian date of the full moon, but can also be a day earlier or later.
The Poya that occurs in the third lunar month is known as ‘Navam Poya,’ ‘Māgha Pūjā,’ ‘Saṅgha Day’ or ‘Buddhist All Saints Day.’ It is observed on the first full moon in February and is the second most important Buddhist festival. It commemorates a gathering held by Buddha and 1,250 of his first disciples, which represents the creation of an exemplary community. It is said that on the first full moon of the third lunar month, Buddha met with his enlightened and ordained disciples and taught a summary of Buddhism — the non-doing of evil, patience, forbearance, and restraint and moderation.
Therefore, Buddhists use this holiday to celebrate the creation of an ideal community. Navam Poya is also believed to be the day Buddha announced his death that was to come in three months, and in Sri Lanka, it is said to be the day he also appointed his two main disciples, monks Sāriputta and Moggallāna. Ever since its establishment in 1851, Buddhists use this day to perform merit-making activities such as giving alms, meditating, and listening to teachings in the temple.
Navam Full Moon Poya Day FAQs
What calendar do they follow in Sri Lanka?
The official religion of the Sri Lankan people is Buddhism. This guides a lot of practices of the people, including their calendars. Sri Lankans use the lunisolar calendar, or simply put, the lunar calendar.
When was Buddha alive?
The timeline of Guatama Buddha’s life is still very uncertain. However, according to Buddhist tradition, he is said to have been born in 563 B.C. or 480 B.C. and died in 483 B.C. or 400 B.C.
Is Buddhism the oldest religion?
Although quite dated, Buddhism is not the oldest religion in the world. Hinduism takes the title, having been around since the Iron Age.
How to Observe Navam Full Moon Poya Day
Visit a temple
If you find yourself in any of the earlier mentioned Asian countries at this time, the best way to celebrate this day will be to visit a Buddhist temple yourself. On this day, there are several merit-making activities observed in the temples. Take a step into the journey of enlightenment by listening to the teachings and being in the presence of it all.
Meditate or chant
Another way to take your journey to enlightenment a step further is by practicing meditation. Meditation is a key practice in the Buddhist community, and on this day especially, devotees will spend quality time meditating and performing Buddhist chants. Meditation is also great for clearing your mind and calming the spirit.
A great merit-making practice performed by Buddhists is the giving of alms. It is not only a Buddhist thing to provide for the less fortunate, but also a human one. Take some time out today to reach out to the needy and give out items from your heart.
5 Interesting Facts About Buddhism You Should Know
It is not a religion
Buddhists see Buddhism as a way of life and not a religion — they don’t even call it Buddhism.
There is no God
Buddhist do not believe in a supreme creator or God.
Buddha was not a God
Guatama Buddha was a prince who embarked on the journey to enlightenment and never called himself a prophet or God.
There is no holy book
Unlike other practices, Buddhists do not have a holy book, but rather several important texts.
It is an independent responsibility
According to Buddhist teachings, each person is responsible for finding enlightenment, reaching Nirvana, and becoming a Buddha.
Why Navam Full Moon Poya Day is Important
It’s a sacred observance
Navam Poya is a sacred observance for the people of Sri Lanka, and Buddhists at large. It is linked to Buddha himself and is the second most important Buddhist festival.
It celebrates community
One of the most important reasons this day is celebrated is to appreciate the formation of an ideal and exemplary community. This not only gives a picture of how a community should be but also highlights the importance of one in the first place.
It represents a new beginning
A full moon often represents an opportunity for new chances and beginnings. It is especially important to Buddhists, as it presents an opportunity for a fresh start, or merit-making, and also a chance to continue on the path to enlightenment.
Navam Full Moon Poya Day dates