AS many of us celebrate Christmas this December, the Buddhist faith has its own commemorative events that captures the spirit of its community.

The Buddhist calendar is a lunar calendar and celebrations are held on the full moon day each month.

Every Poya (full moon) day has its own name and commemorates key events in Buddhism.

Unduvap Full Moon Poya is in December.

This day celebrates Buddhist Nun, Bhikkhuni Arahant Sanghamitta Theri (the daughter of Indian Emperor Asoka), bringing to Sri Lanka, a sapling from the Bodhi tree under which The Buddha became enlightened.

The sapling was planted in Anuradhapura by King Devanampiya Tissa and is the oldest historically authenticated human-planted tree in the world.

Anuradhapura became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982. Sanghamitta Theri was invited to Sri Lanka by King Devanampiya Tissa to establish the Bhikkhuni Order of Nuns on the island.

Her brother, Buddhist Monk Bhikkhu Arahant Mahinda Thera, had brought Buddhism to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century BCE. Women had requested ordination as Bhikkhunis, which necessitates the participation of senior Bhikkhunis.

In Buddhist countries, on Poya days Lay people wearing white clothes attend monasteries and temples and participate in religious activities.

On Full Moon Poya days, Buddhists reflect on the events associated with that day. BGKT Buddhist Group of Kendal (Theravada) holds a monthly meeting at which we study these events and perform a Puja, a Buddhist Service, which includes chanting, offerings, and meditation.

The three Theravada Buddhist Groups in Cumbria, based in Kendal, Carlisle and Keswick, meditate at the same time 7-9 pm at home on the four moon days.