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Vap Full Moon Poya Day – October 17, 2024

In Sri Lanka, the Vap Full Moon Poya Day is celebrated on the day of the full moon of Vap, the seventh month of the Sinhalese calendar. This year, it falls on October 17. It frequently occurs in October of the Western calendar. The completion of the Buddhist fasting period coincides with the Vap Full Moon Poya holiday, commemorating Buddha’s sermon on Abhidhamma to the gods in Tavatimsa.

History of Vap Full Moon Poya Day

Maya passed away a week after the birth of her son, Buddha, the enlightened one. She was given the name ‘Santusita’ after her rebirth as a god in the Tavatimsa celestial realm. Buddha went to the Tavatimsa Heaven to pay respects to his mother and spent three months giving sermons based on the Abhidhamma teachings.

The Esala Full Moon Poya marks the beginning of Buddhist Lent, which continues for the following three months. This is a time when monks remain in their temples and subsist on alms from worshippers. It is traditionally believed that Buddha returned to Earth on the night of the Vap full moon, which also marks the conclusion of the Buddhist fasting period.

In Sri Lanka, a holiday is observed with every full moon, typically occurring once a month. A special day is set aside to remember significant moments in Buddhist history during the full moons, each bearing a unique name. Days with a full moon are called ‘Poya,’ and their dates shift from year to year, with some dates falling either one day before or one day after the date of the full moon.

Vap Full Moon Poya Day timeline

486 B.C.
First Buddhist Council and Buddhist Canon

The first Buddhist Council and the Buddhist Canon are established.

269–231 B.C.
First Buddhists in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka’s first Buddhists are sent by King Ashoka, a devotee of Buddhism.

80 B.C.
Theravada Buddhism

Theravada Buddhism begins to spread throughout Sri Lanka.

2,000 Years Old

A celebration honoring the first 2,500 years of Buddhism occurs.

Vap Full Moon Poya Day FAQs

Are Poya Days celebrated anywhere else in the world?

No, the event is unique to Sri Lanka.

How can the day’s holiness be maintained?

Government officials have deemed Poya Day a holy day. It is therefore prohibited to open liquor stores, nightclubs, and restaurants serving meat and fish on this day. In addition, outdoor concerts are also banned.

How does the media celebrate the day?

Buddhist devotional music, dramas, and conversations on the Dhamma are available on television and radio stations across the country.

How to Observe Vap Full Moon Poya Day

  1. Present a Cheevara

    ‘Cheevara,’ or robes, are reverently offered with other gifts at the end of the monks’ retreat on Vap Poya Day. When it comes to doing good deeds, this one ranks among the highest. Known as the ‘Katina cheevaraya,’ this sacred robe is carried to the temple and presented to the monks in a procession.

  2. Celebrate on a large scale

    Buddhists have celebrated Vap on a grand scale for a long time. Expect all of Sri Lanka’s temples to be full. Join the celebrations to soak up the local culture and learn more about Buddhist philosophy.

  3. Visit Vessagiriya

    Stop by the Vessagiriya temple complex if you have the time. Five hundred monks resided in this peaceful grassland in the third century B.C., when it was part of an ancient woodland monastery. While walking across the site, you’ll see numerous enormous rock ruins. The caves where Vessagiriya monks once dwelled are now visible among the rocks. In addition, there are peacocks and monkeys on the property, so keep your eyes open.

5 Facts About Buddha That You Didn’t Know

  1. He gave the Abhidhamma preachings

    After Buddha’s seventh Vas season, the preachings on Abhidhamma, considered the heart of Buddhism, were delivered.

  2. He was a thankful son

    Buddha wanted to express his thanks to his mother, Queen Maya, who passed away on the seventh day after his birth and bore Buddha as Santusita in Thawthisa, the home of the gods.

  3. He spent three months teaching

    After Buddha ascended to Thawthisa, he spent the next three months teaching the Abhidhamma doctrine to the gods.

  4. He might have been from Nepal

    Scholars believe he was born in the land that would later become Nepal.

  5. He was a prince

    Before seeking enlightenment, Buddha was known as Prince Siddhartha Gautama.

Why Vap Full Moon Poya Day is Important

  1. It remembers the ordainment of female monks

    This is an important day for Sri Lankan women because it is the anniversary of Bikkhuni Shasanaya, the first ordination of female monks in Sri Lanka. Queen Anula had requested King Devanampiyatissa to send representatives from Sri Lanka to India to establish Bhikkhuni Shasenaya on the Vap Full Moon Poya Day.

  2. It upholds the religion’s ideas

    Buddhists in Sri Lanka hold a ceremony to commemorate Vap Poya, uphold the holiday’s religious and cultural significance, and instill more moral qualities in their followers. This espouses the holiday’s importance while also fostering more morally upstanding practices.

  3. It marks a series of important events

    On Vap Full Moon Poya, a series of significant events happened, such as the teaching of Abhidhamma to the gods and Arahath Sariputtha’s ordination as Buddha’s most intelligent student. In addition, it was also the day that Maithree Bodhisathwe, destined to succeed Gauthama Buddha as the Buddha of the future, received her ordination from him. Lastly, today marks the final day of the wet season.

Vap Full Moon Poya Day dates

2022October 9Sunday
2023October 28Saturday
2024October 17Thursday
2025October 6Monday
2026October 25Sunday

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