Sri Lankan Public Holidays 2016

By Jenna Jolie

Find out when public holidays in Sri Lanka are held so you can better plan your Sri Lankan holiday.

While religious festivals make the majority of the holidays in Sri Lanka, significance is given to Full moon poya days during which the sale of alcoholic beverages, meats and fish is prohibited. Some shops and businesses are also closed on poya days while the New Year festival in mid-April and the two day long holiday for Vesak in May see a general pause in government, mercantile and banking sectors, when the country takes time off to celebrate or to catch a breath.

Sri Lankan public holidays at a list

Month Weekday Date Holiday name
January Friday 15 Tamil Thai Pongal Day (A four day long Hindu Tamil Harvest Festival)
January Saturday 23 Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day (Signifies the Lord Buddha’s first visit to Sri Lanka to settle a dispute between Yakkas and Nagas)
February Thursday 04 National Day (Sri Lanka's Independence Day is celebrated on 4th of February and commemorates the independence from Colonial British rule in 1948)
February Monday 22 Navam Full Moon Poya Day (Navam Full Moon Poya Day - The Navam full moon Poya day celebrates the appinment of Buddha’s two chief disciples and the first-ever Buddhist Council held after the passing away of Lord Buddha)
March Monday 07 Mahasivarathri Day (A Hindu festival held in celebration of Lord Shiva and is believed to be his most favorite day)
March Tuesday 22 Madin Full Moon Poya Day (Celebration of Lord Buddha’s visit to his hometown Kapilavastu)
March Friday 25 Good Friday (Good Friday- is a religious Holiday commemorated by the Christian community in Sri Lanka commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and his death at Calvary)
April Wednesday 13 Day Prior to Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day
April Thursday 14 Sinhala & Tamil New Year Day (A local harvest festival and the beginning of traditional New Year, which carries a close resemblance to many New Year festivals found in the region)
April Thursday 21 Bak Full Moon Poya Day (Bak Full moon Poya Day celebrates Lord Buddha’s second visit to Sri Lanka to make peace between two warring local chiefs, who were also uncle and nephew)
May Sunday 01 May day (The International Workers’ Day is celebrated with marches and public meeting all over Sri Lanka)
May Saturday 21 Vesak Full Moon Poya Day (Commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Gautama Buddha and is celebrated in its full glory in Sri Lanka)
May Sunday 22 Vesak Full Moon Poya Holiday Day (Commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Gautama Buddha and is celebrated in its full glory in Sri Lanka)
June Sunday 19 Poson Full Moon Poya Day (Commemorates the arrival of Buddhism to Sri Lanka from India and is celebrated as widely and as grandly as Vesak itself)
July Wednesday 06 Id-Ul-Fitr (Ramazan Festival Day) (The festival of breaking the fast is an Islamic religious festival celebrating the end of the 29 -30 days of dawn-to-sunset fasting during the entire month of Ramadan)
July Tuesday 19 Esala Full Moon Poya Day (Celebrates the delivery of Lord Buddha’s first discourse 'Dhammacakkappavattana Sutra' to five disciples at the deer park of Isipathana and commencement of Vas or Rainy Season retreat for Bikkhus)
August Wednesday 17 Nikini Full Moon Poya Day (The historic Kandy Esala Perahara ends on this day while Seruwila Raja Maha Viharaya and Bellanwila Raja Maha Vihara annual Perahera are held during the month of Nikini)
September Monday 12 Id-Ul-Alha(Hadji Festival Day) (Adha is a three day global Islamic festival and is part of the Hajj or the pilgrimage to Mecca
September Friday 16 Binara Full Moon Poya Day (The Buddhist Bikkhuni Order was established on a Binara Full moon Poya day)
October Saturday 15 Vap Full Moon Poya Day(Marks Buddha's preaching of Abhidamma to the gods in Tavatimsa and the end of the Buddhist period of fasting)
October Saturday 29 Deepavali Festival Day(Diwali marks the return of Lord Rama, who was the seventh incarnation of Vishnu, from a fourteen year exile.)
November Monday 14 Ill Full Moon Poya Day(Commemorates Buddha's ordination of sixty disciples as the first missionaries)
December Monday 12 Milad-Un-Nabi (Holy Prophet's Birthday.'Mawlid' is Celebrated by Muslims during the month of Rabiulawal, the third month of the Muslim calendar.)
December Tuesday 13 Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day(Celebrates the arrival of the Bo tree sapling in Anuradhapura, brought by Ashoka's daughter, Sangamitta)
December Sunday 25 Christmas Day(Christmas Day celebrates the Nativity of Jesus.On this day, over 2 billion people (over a third of the world's population) will celebrate the birth of Christ.)

Highlight with a quick fact about Sri Lankan public holidays

As a cosmopolitan country including Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, and Muslims, one of the benefits that Sri Lankans enjoy is that practically all religious festivals are observed as public holidays. When it comes to Tamil Hindu holidays, the Deepavali mercantile holiday is the most important. This year, it occurs on Sunday, November 12th, and if you are in Sri Lanka at that time, you may be able to see the celebrations.
The Poya dominates Sri Lankan public holidays on this island country. Every full moon, these festivities are honored. For Buddhists, each Poya is a significant occasion. While the dates normally correspond to the full moon, the Sri Lankan government may move the holidays by a day or two, so check back here for the most up-to-date information in this article.
It is recommended that visitors spend at least two weeks on this island country in order to thoroughly experience the festivals listed above as well as participate in other intriguing activities. Check out our Sri Lanka e-Visa service to see how long you may remain in this lovely island nation.

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