Month of January

Every full moon day in Sri Lanka is known as poya, a Buddhist public holiday in which adherents dress in white to visit the temple from dawn until dusk to pray, meditate and listen to religious discourse. The 12 poya days each year are individually named and concern the life of the Buddha and Buddhism.

Duruthu Poya,
the initial full moon day of the Gregorian calendar, commemorates the Buddha’s first of three visits to Sri Lanka. The Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya or Kelaniya Temple, near Colombo, hosts a perahera, literally .procession., to mark this symbolic event. The perahera is a spectacular aspect of Sri Lanka.s festivals in which an array of traditionally-attired dancers, drummers, whip-crackers, acrobats, and enrobed elephants, participate. For visitors it’s one of Sri Lanka’s most appealing cultural attractions.


Thai Pongal,
the Hindu harvest festival, is celebrated on January 14 in Hindu homes and temples throughout the country. Worship at the kovil (temple) is mandatory for adherents to the faith. Special rituals are held at home too, such as the cooking and ceremonial consumption of traditional sweetened rice called pongal. An observance of a creative nature, kolam, involves making intricate floor motifs with flour. In rural areas, a sequel known as Madu Pongal follows. Domestic animals are washed and fed, auspicious red colour smeared on their foreheads, and finally they are garlanded with marigolds.


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