Poson is a day celebrated by Buddhists around the world. The term Poson comes from the name of a month in Sri Lankan and Indian calenders.
Poson day is one of the most important festival days in the Buddhist history of Sri Lanka as it commemorate that Buddhism started on a Poson day, when the royal missionary monk Mihinda's arrived and converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism, in the year 236 B.C.E. This event is mentioned in our Sri Lankan Mahawamsa Chronicle. Buddhist missionaries were sent to various countries in the world, apart from Sri Lanka. But in the case of Sri Lanka, Emperor Dharmasoka sent his own son, Arahant Mahinda Maha Thera, to lead the delegation. The Arahants (enlightened men) Ittiya, Uttiya, Sambala and Baddasala accompanied Arahant Mahinda Maha Thera on this mission. Sumana Samanera also joined them. The only layman in this mission was Bhanduka Upasaka.
King Devanampiyatissa followed by his men engaged himself in a game of hunting in the royal park, ”Missaka Pawwa”. A well-built deer ran swiftly along the king’s side. The king had no time to spare. Nobody else than the king himself was to kill the biggest deer on that day. But when he aimed at the deer, top at the foot of which the king was standing, he heard his name being called. The king was seriously concerned as to who in this world dared to call him by his name. However, he was not annoyed as the words were pleasing. The king looked up from the foot of the Mango tree where he was found standing dumb and saw the figure of a human being in yellow clothes. Till then he had never seen such a person with yellow clothes. He was amazed. ”This should be a supernatural being”, the king thought. Hitherto the king saw only one figure. The other four arahants, the samanera and the upasaka then also emerged one by one. Arahant Mahinda ascertained that the king was prepared to listen to him. His bow and arrow fell from his hands. He put his hands together on his forehead and knelt down on the ground under the Mango tree.
Arahant Mahinda Maha Thera decided to test the king’s knowledge and intelligence and to ascertain whether he could understand the Dhamma by delivering it in the normal way. Monk Mahinda decided to test king with a riddle. Pointing to a tree he asked him the name of the tree. This tree called a “mango”, replied the king. “Is there yet another mango besides this?” asked Monk Mahinda. “There are many Mango trees”, responded the king. “And are there yet other trees beside this Mango and the other Mangoes?”, asked Monk Mahinda. “There are many other trees, those trees which are not mangoes.” said the king. “And are there, besides the other Mangoes and those trees which are not Mangoes, yet other trees?” asked Monk Mahinda. “There is this mango tree”, said King Tissa, who as a result passed the test.
We generally wear white dress [Sil adun] when going the temples and participating in the traditional ceremonies at temple. The majority of the philgrims spends the whole day in the temple compound and they reaffirm their determination to follow the teachings of the Buddha. Every temple is filled with Ata Sil and Dasa Sil devoties and philgrims all over Sri Lanka celebrating this great event. In temples Buddhist worship, lit lamps, offer flowers and lit incense sticks. Many religious activities are organized by village communities, government departments of police, army, schools and by thee department of buddhist and civil organizations during this period at every temple of Sri Lanka, such as Sil campain, Bodi pooja, Amisa pooja, Perahara Prosses, Coffee or Tea, Dansal [freely giving foods], devotional songs [Bakthi Gee/Bathi Gee], Kavi Bana preaching, pandols or thoran, Aloka pooja, relique excibitions and lantherns.
Nuwan Chinthaka Gajanayaka