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15th June – Poson Poya Day Festival

One of the most important monthly Poya Days for Buddhists in Sri Lanka is the Poson Poya Day Holiday. The Poson Festival commemorates the conversion of Sri Lanka to Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. Illuminations and processions take place all over the country, but the best place to see the festival is at Mihintale.

It was here in this ancient city that Sri Lanka's king was converted to Buddhism by Arahat Maha Mahinda, the son of King Asoka (Emperor of India). As the king was hunting deer, Mahinda appeared to him in a grove and asked him a riddle about a mango tree (Ambasthale means mango tree). After the king had answered the riddle, he apparently agreed to follow the teachings of the Buddha and declared it state religion.

The Ambasthale Dagoba is a temple which towers above the city of Mihintale, accessible by 1840 steps and built over the very spot where Mahinda is said to have appeared before the king.