Every full moon is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Each full moon has its own name and is a day to celebrate major events in Buddhism. This full moon day is called Poya.
The full moon day in the month of March is known as the madin full moon Poya day. This poya marks the Buddha’s first visit to his father’s palace following his enlightenment. Therefore, this is an important day for all Buddhists around the world.
Six years after the enlightenment of the Supreme Buddha, his father King Suddodana heard the news of his son’s enlightenment. Wanting to see his son, the King sent an envoy with a retinue of 1,000 to invite the Buddha to his kingdom of Kapilavastu, thought to have been in modern-day Nepal. But those thousands of men who heard the Dhamma from the Supreme Buddha became Arahants and became monks of the Buddha Sasana. In this way, on nine occasions, nine thousand men, one by one, were ordained in the Buddha Sasana and attained Arahantship. The ascension of the Buddha did not take place as King Suddhodana had hoped.
King Suddodana sent Kaludai, a childhood friend of Prince Siddhartha (the Supreme Buddha), as the last roll of the dice. Kaludai agreed to pass on the message, provided he too would be allowed to enter the order. Kaludai was able to persuade the Buddha to visit his elderly father Suddhodana and relatives in the Sakya land of Kimbulwathpura. And so it was on the Madin Full Moon Day, that the Buddha, accompanied by 20,000 disciples made the journey of about 900 miles from Veluwanaramaya, Rajagriha, to meet his father, relatives, and friends.
The Supreme Buddha preached to the crowd the Vesanthara Jataka, describing his previous life as King Vesanthara. This poya symbolizes love and brotherhood as Prince Rahula, the only son of Prince Siddhartha (Buddha before Enlightenment) entered the Buddha Sasana on the day of Madin Poya. For Sri Lankan Buddhists, the full moon day of Medin is especially important as it marks the peak of the Sri Pada pilgrimage season.