Pilgrims boarding a free train service for Poson Poya Day celebrations in Sri Lanka

Enjoy Special Toll-Free Railway Service for Poson Week Pilgrims

Sri Lanka Railways Offers Toll-Free Rides for Pilgrims on Poson Poya Day.

Sri Lanka Railways has announced a special railway service offering toll-free rides for a week, starting today, June 17, for passengers traveling to Mihintale from Anuradhapura in celebration of Poson Poya Day. This initiative is aimed at facilitating the travel of devotees who will be participating in the religious festivities. Poson Poya Day, a significant event in the Buddhist calendar, marks the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka by Mahinda Thera, and Mihintale is a key pilgrimage site associated with this historic event.

The decision to provide free railway services underscores the importance of Poson Poya Day in Sri Lanka’s cultural and religious landscape. Mihintale, located near Anuradhapura, is a sacred site where Mahinda Thera first preached the Buddhist doctrine to King Devanampiyatissa, leading to the establishment of Buddhism in the island nation. The week-long toll-free railway service is expected to encourage more pilgrims to visit Mihintale, enhancing the spiritual atmosphere of the celebrations.

However, due to ongoing renovation activities along the Northern Railway track between Maho and Anuradhapura, trains will not be running on this section during this period. The renovations are part of a broader effort to improve the railway infrastructure, ensuring safer and more efficient travel for passengers in the future. Given the disruption, Sri Lanka Railways has coordinated with the national bus service to implement a special bus service from Maho railway station to Anuradhapura. This service is designed to accommodate passengers traveling from Colombo to Maho, ensuring that their journey to Anuradhapura remains smooth despite the railway interruptions.

To manage the expected increase in passenger volume, approximately 400 additional buses have been allocated to facilitate transportation between Maho and Anuradhapura. This significant increase in bus services reflects the authorities’ commitment to minimizing inconvenience for the pilgrims and ensuring that they can participate in the Poson celebrations without significant travel disruptions. The special bus service aims to bridge the gap caused by the railway renovation, providing a reliable alternative for pilgrims.

In addition to these transportation arrangements, the Minister of Highways, Transport, and Mass Media, Bandula Gunawardena, inaugurated the renovated railway line between Mihintale and Anuradhapura today. This newly renovated section is expected to enhance travel convenience for pilgrims heading to Mihintale, offering a more comfortable and efficient journey. The renovation is part of a series of infrastructure improvements aimed at supporting the large influx of devotees during religious festivals.

The Poson Full Moon Poya Day this year falls on June 21, and the National Poson Week will commence tomorrow, June 18. During this week, numerous religious ceremonies and activities are planned at Atamasthana in Anuradhapura, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka. Atamasthana, or the Eight Sacred Places, are locations in Anuradhapura that are revered for their historical and religious significance. These sites include the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi, Ruwanwelisaya, Thuparamaya, and several other ancient temples and stupas, each holding a unique place in the Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka.

Anuradhapura District Secretary Janaka Jayasundara has indicated that a large number of devotees are expected to arrive in Anuradhapura and Mihintale for the Poson celebrations this year. The influx of pilgrims highlights the enduring importance of Poson Poya Day in the hearts of Sri Lankan Buddhists. It is a time of deep religious observance, reflection, and communal harmony, with devotees participating in various religious rites, alms-giving, and meditation sessions.

The Sri Lankan government, in collaboration with religious and community organizations, has made extensive preparations to accommodate the large number of pilgrims. Temporary shelters, sanitation facilities, and food distribution centers have been set up to cater to the needs of the devotees. These measures are essential in ensuring that the pilgrims can focus on their spiritual activities without facing logistical challenges.

Moreover, the government has taken steps to enhance the safety and security of the pilgrims. Increased police presence, traffic management, and emergency medical services are part of the comprehensive plan to handle the large crowds. These efforts are crucial in maintaining order and ensuring that the celebrations proceed smoothly.

Poson Poya Day is not only a religious event but also a cultural celebration that brings together people from various parts of the country. It fosters a sense of unity and shared heritage among Sri Lankans. The free railway service and the additional bus services are part of the broader objective to promote inclusivity and accessibility, allowing people from all walks of life to participate in the festivities.

In conclusion, the special railway service offering toll-free rides, the implementation of additional bus services, and the inauguration of the renovated railway line between Mihintale and Anuradhapura are significant steps taken by Sri Lanka Railways and the government to facilitate the travel of pilgrims during Poson Poya Day. These efforts reflect the commitment to preserving and promoting the rich religious and cultural traditions of Sri Lanka, ensuring that the celebrations are accessible, safe, and meaningful for all devotees.