Thursday, September 27, 2007

Buddhist June Full Moon Poson

Buddhist June Full Moon Poson Image
The regular biweekly PHASES OF THE MOON indicate the new and full moon observance days

"The Poson" full-moon observance day celebration is one of the major Buddhist ceremonies in Sri Lanka, second only to Vesak (or "Buddhist Xmas").

This special ceremony commemorates the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka from India. It is done out of gratitude to the arhat (enlightened being) Mahinda, son of the emperor Ashoka. The emperor sent a missionary expedition to the island consisting of arhats:

Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambhala, Bhaddasala, Samanera Sumana, and Upasaka Bhandhuka arrived in Sri Lanka on the full moon day of June in the year 236 of BCE. The emperor and the Sri Lankan King Devanampiyatissa ("beloved by"devas") were royal friends who had never met. So close were they that the emperor sent his son.

Arhat Mahinda is beloved in Sri Lanka with a special epithet "Second Buddha Maha Mahinda" ("Anubudu Mihindu"). This is not an exaggeration because arhat Mahinda was the one who introduced Theravada Buddhism to Sri Lanka. If Theravada Buddhism exists in the world today, it is because of him.

Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos are the major Theravada countries in the world today. Sri Lankan culture is based on Theravada Buddhism. Written and spoken language, the scriptural language Pali, arts, architecture, and culture are the heritage of Buddhism arriving on the island.

While Vesak is universally celebrated, "Poson" is unique to Sri Lankan Buddhism because it marks the historical beginning of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan Buddhists who live in other countries celebrate it around the world: Singapore has a very big celebration as well as Los Angeles' many Sri Lankan temples.

Sri Lankan king meeting the missionary arhat Mahinda

During Poson people place an emphasis on practicing the Dharma ("pratipatti puja") observing the Eight Precepts at monasteries and Dharma centers. Various offerings (giving "dana") is practiced as well. On the island, hundreds of thousands of people visit Mihintale, the historical rocky monastery, where King Devanampiyatissa met Mahinda for the first time.

Among various meritorious deeds performed on "Poson", there are:

* Observing the Eight Precepts
* Poson Parade
* Offering free food and drinks

Observing additional precepts is one of the major parts of every full moon observance day. Many government schools organize Eight Precept programs for students during "Poson" week, which happens nowhere else in the world.

"Pilgrims love to climb a rock (Mihintalava") on which Mahinda landed with his missionary group. It is said that the seven members had developed psychic powers through meditation and arrived on that rock neither by land nor sea. They appeared by means of psychic power.

Apart from these events, there are many other meritorious activities going on all over the country:

* visiting hospitals
* donating blood
* social service
* helping the needy
* freeing cows from slaughter

Offering lights in the name of the Three Gems and Mahinda is one of the major events at Mihintale Monastery, where the entire area is illuminated with traditional oil lamps and electric lights. This display reflects the light of wisdom he brought to Sri Lanka, a land that became a great preserver of the Dharma.

by Ven. Chandawimila, Ph.D.

You also may enjoy this free books:

Howard Phillips Lovecraft - What The Moon Brings
Anonymous - Full Moon Rite

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