It was a full moon day on the month of Ill (November) and the entire town-dwellers were busy when hermit Sumedha stridden in to the town. Many men were busy clearing off the roadside fences, and colour washing the houses. Some were busy trimming the tree branches allowing the sunshine to light the streets. Women profusely walked here and there helping their men, who worked hand-in-hand to make their town a pleasant place. Curious hermit Sumedha was eager to know what befalls in the city. He slowly made his way towards a strong man, who was busy setting up the road. “Sir, what is this big ha-ho? Anything special is happening in the city?”
The man looked at the hermit and with all due respect replied. “Why, haven’t you heard? Today Deepankara Buddha is visiting our city. So, we want our city to be in the perfect condition”
“Really unbelievable this is! I would also like to be a part of it,” Hermit Sumedha said determinately.
Looking at the hermit again, man said pointing towards the road, “All right! Then can you construct that part of the road?”
Hermit Sumedha was thrilled with that offer. Immediately he agreed. Keeping his possessions at a roadside amabalama (resting place for the weary traveller), he began his work. After the heavy rains, which lasted for few days continuously, the road was full of mud. It made his chore even harder. He was to cover the mud with gravel and clean it, for the Buddha to walk on it without a problem. The sun, which was just emerging from the sea when he arrived at the city, is now almost ready to drown back in the ocean. Yet, he is not finish with the duty. He heard people’s loud voices echoing “Sadhu! Sadhu!”
He felt guilty for scorning the townsman who handed over the task. Without a second thought, he knelt down and laid his long black hair on the ground in an act of devoutness, so the Deepankara Buddha could cross the puddle of mud without soiling his feet. The Buddha walked slowly up to him and stopped. “Do you recognize this person?” He pointed out the hermit and questioned the people. Men and women nodded in astonishment. The one, who allocated him the duty in the daybreak, stood still wishing he would not be blamed for anything.
Sumedha!” The Buddha called him. Hermit sat down on the ground worshipping the Buddha. “In the ages of the future you will come to be a Buddha called 'Shakyamuni'” The Buddha announced while people cried in amazement.
"I am to become a Buddha, awakened to enlightenment; may you tread with your feet on my hair - on my birth, old age, and death," Replied the hermit.
"Freed from human existence, you will become an effective teacher, for the sake of the world. Born among the Shakyas, as the epitome of the Triple World, the Lamp of all Beings, you will be known as Gautama. You will be the son of King Suddhodana and Queen Maya. Shariputta and Moggallana will be your chief disciples. Your caretaker will name as Ananda." Hermit Sumedha received niyatha vivarana (the assurance of becoming a Buddha) from Deepankara Buddha, on that Ill poya day. After that, He spent 554 lives completing the necessary paramithas to become Gautama Buddha.
Significance of the Ill Poya day does not stop here. This day, also marks the conclusion of Vassana season. For a Buddhist, offering of "Katina Cheevaraya" is considered as a meritorious act, which takes place in most of the Temples during the month of November. Brought in processions to their respective temples, ‘Katina Cheevara’ is offered to the resident Upasampada monks, who observed Vas, (Rainy Retreat) for nearly three months.
Another significant event happened on this day during Gauthama Buddha’s era, is converting the three Jatila Brothers Uruwela, Nadi, and Gaya to Buddhism who lived in Hermitages close to the River Neranjana. These three brothers had thousand followers. The Buddha proceeded to the hermitage of Jatila Uruvela and performed "Pelahara" (spiritual powers or super natural power). The Enlightened One delivered the "Adithya Pariyaya Sutta" on this occasion. They attained Arahatship, where they will be no longer subject to rebirth.
The passing away of Sariputta, senior chief disciple of the Buddha also occurred on Ill Poya day. A week before he passed away, he visited his beloved mother Rupasari, who did not believe in the Triple Gem. Sariputta Thera's was determined to make his mother a follower of Buddhism. After listening to Sariputta's sermon, she attained the first stage out of four stages towards the nibbana. Following this event, Sariputta Thera passed away, while the Buddha was still alive.
During different eras of the past, various important events related to Buddhism happened on this Ill Poya day, which we commemorate on the Full moon day in November and mentioned here are just a few such incidents.