This public holiday in Sri Lanka takes place on the full moon day of Unduvap, the ninth month in the Sinhalese calendar.
It usually falls in December in the Western calendar.History of Unduvap Full Moon Poya
Celebrates the arrival of the Bo tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka’s daughter, Sangamitta.
Lord Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment by meditating under a Bodhi Tree in Bihar, India. In the 3rd century BC, Sangamitta Theri, the daughter of Emperor Ashoka brought a sapling from this Bodhi tree to Sri Lanka, arriving on Unduvap Poya day.
The sapling was planted in 288 BC by King Devanampiya Tissa, in the Mahamevnāwa Park in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka, where it still grows today. This makes it the oldest living human-planted tree in the world with a known planting date.
Today the tree is one of the most sacred relics for Buddhists in Sri Lanka and respected by Buddhists all over the world. Thousands of devotees come to Anuradhapura on Unduvap Poya day to pay homage to the sacred Bo tree and observe the five precepts in order to lead exemplary lives.
Anuradhapura was a Ceylonese political and religious capital that flourished for 1,300 years. The city was abandoned after an invasion in 993 AD. Hidden away in dense jungle for many years, the splendid site, with its palaces, monasteries and monuments, is now accessible once again. It was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1982.