When the full moon spreads its light over the island of Sri Lanka, business activities cease and followers of the Buddhist teachings engage in meditation and meritorious deeds. It is the first full moon Poya day of the year, in the month of Duruthu.
When the full moon appears at approximately the same time every month, it is known as ‘Poya’ here in Sri Lanka, a term derived from the Pali and Sanskrit word Uposatha meaning “day of fasting”. It is said that ancient Asian ascetics used the full moon to mark the passing months, since there were no calendars at the time. Ceasing worldly pursuits and engaging in spiritual activities on this day was the practice even in those ancient times and it was adopted by Gautama Buddha during his lifetime spent spreading the message of peace.