Poson Poya, an annual festival held by Sri Lankan Buddhists, honors the establishment of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in 236 BC by a Buddhist monk Mahinda.
It also celebrates Poya (full moon), being the second most important Buddhist holiday of the year after Vesak. It is widely marked by storytelling, music, dancing, the distribution of free food and teas to the needy, and by lighting paper lanterns.
Buddhist temples hold special ceremonies and attract many visitors during this day, which is considered to be a special occasion for praying and receiving a blessing. In some areas, the sales of meat and alcohol are suspended during the festival.
The most important ceremonies take place in Anuradhapura and Mihintale, which have become sites of massive pilgrimage. The Buddhist monastery on the mountain of Mihintale is the place where Mahinda preached Buddhism to the kings of Sri Lanka. Anuradhapura was one of the first cities that got converted to Buddhism. Thousands of pilgrims dress in white and spend hours in prayers and meditation.