Full Moon Day (Poya Day) – Offerings
Devanapathis International Samatha and Vipassana Meditation Centre, Pallekelle, Kundasale, near Kandy in Sri Lanka is one of Metta Round the World Participating Organisations.
A few of us were at Devanapathis in Aug/Sep12, over a period of 50 days (some for a week or two) for a meditation retreat.
Poya Day i.e. Full Moon Day, is a public holiday in Sri Lanka. Most Buddhists, young and old will spent their day at temples; chanting, meditating, listening to dhamma talk, in quiet contemplation or even performing some services within the temple compound.
At Devanapathis, Poya Day starts very early in the morning with Buddha offering and puja. As early as 2.30 am devotees are already up. After the morning puja, preparation is underway to get ready for the offerings to 7 Buddhas <see note 2 of http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an04/an04.067.than.html> and 80 Chief Disciples of Buddha Gotama. By 3.30 am, the Chief Abbess and selected bikkhunis/samaneris will lead the queue to receive the offerings into the special alms bowls while the rest of the yogis/devotees will receive offerings in smaller alms bowls. We then proceed to the Relic Chamber up the hill under a golden cloth canopy carried by devotees all the way up to the entrance of the Relic Chamber accompanied by the joy expressed in their chanting of Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu! Many devotees lined the path on both side, with chanting and some reaching out to touch the alms bowls in reverence and joy.
At the Relic Chamber, the alms bowls were placed surrounding the relics together with flowers, water, medicinal drink and betel leaves as offerings. Various Suttas were recited and prayers offered for the well beings of many.
It was a very meaningful experience to have the opportunity to carry one of the alms bowls in offerings. Locals have to ‘ballot’ for a number to be one of the alms bowl carrier while we foreign yogis are automatically given an alms bowl and queue ahead of the Sri Lankan yogis/devotees.