Unduvap Poya is the last Full Moon Poya day of the year and commemorates the arrival of Sangamitta Theri in Sri Lanka with a Bo sapling from the sacred Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in India during the month of Unduwap.
Sangamitta Theri was accompanied on this voyage of utmost importance by several members of the royal family who had entered the Sasanaya. This contingent landed in Dambakolapatuna port in Jaffna on an Unduvap Poya day during the reign of King Devanampiyatissa. Sangamitta Theri was the daughter of Emperor Asoka and the sister of Arahant Mahinda who brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka on Poson Poya day. After landing here and delivering this precious gift, she was responsible for establishing the Bhikkhuni Sasana during the month of Unduvap.
The sacred Bo sapling was brought to Sri Lanka in a golden bowl and thereafter planted in the Mahameuna Garden in Anuradhapura. Bo saplings that emerged from this tree were taken to other parts of the island to spread the Buddhist philosophy and culture. It is said that this visit by Sangamitta Theri was beneficial to Sri Lanka in many ways other than its main purpose of bringing the Bo sapling. The retinue that accompanied her included people skilled in diverse crafts and disciplines such as woodwork, agriculture, indigenous medicine, etc. and their expertise was shared with the locals. Since then these skills have been handed down through generations and utilized for the development of this country.
In honor of this event back in history, devotees flock to Anuradhapura in their thousands on Unduvap Poya day to pay homage to the sacred Bo tree and observe the five precepts in order to lead exemplary lives.
It is also recorded that during the Lord Buddha’s lifetime, He visited Sri Lanka, and on one of these visits placed His footprint on the summit of the mountain known as Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada. This was on the invitation of lord Sumana Saman. From then on the Sri Pada pilgrimage became an integral part of every Buddhist’s spiritual journey, to be embarked on at least once in a lifetime.