An All-Vegan Poya Day Buffet Fit for a Queen at Mount Lavinia Hotel

Poya Day is one of the most auspicious days of Sri Lanka’s calendar and one of the most celebrated days when you can enjoy a gigantic all-vegan feast at Mount Lavinia Hotel in Colombo. This is one of, if not the vegan food experience to try when you’re in Colombo.

Poya Day is the name given to the Buddhist full moon holiday called ‘Uposatha’. Poya Day, a monthly public holiday, is celebrated when the moon has reached its fullest in the lunar cycle. Depending on the Lunar calendar, Poya Day can also occur twice in one month. Sri Lanka is a predominantly a Buddhist country, and Buddhism observes the lunar calendar. Full moon is also known as ‘poya’ in Sinhalese language, the language spoken by about 19 million people in Sri Lanka; one of the constitutionally-recognised official languages alongside Tamil.

Poya Day vegan buffet Mount Lavinia Hotel Colombo Sri Lanka

Those in Sri Lanka who observe Buddhism may start Poya Day by visiting their local temple in the morning. It’s common to see many people in Sri Lanka walking the streets wearing all-white, the respectful colour to wear when visiting Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka. So, how is it that Mount Lavinia Hotel hosts an all-vegan all-you-can-eat buffet each Poya Day? Travellers could turn to Buddha’s teachings for clues.  As reported by Medium, translated from sutras in Buddhist scripture, there are some telling sentences such as:

“The eating of meat extinguishes the seed of great compassion.” — The Buddha, Mahaparinirvana Sutra

“One is not a great one because one defeats or harms other living beings. One is so called because one refrains from defeating or harming other living beings.” — The Buddha, Dhammapada

“If a man can control his body and mind and thereby refrains from eating animal flesh and wearing animal products, I say he will really be liberated.” — The Buddha, Surangama Sutra

One of Colombo’s esteemed heritage hotels, Mount Lavinia Hotel, has stood facing the shores of the Indian Ocean since 1805 and is a gorgeous, antique four-star accommodation that’s steeped in history. Sir Thomas Maitland, a gallant military General, started the hotel, during colonial times when Sri Lanka was known as Ceylon.

Visiting Mount Lavinia Hotel for an all-vegan feast on Poya Day feels as if history has come full circle here. The Governor’s Restaurant is the backdrop to the buffet as guests arrive, some dressed in temple whites, to celebrate Poya and eat until the hours unwind.  Mount Lavinia Hotel painstakingly prepares an elaborate feast to include soups, salads, traditional rice and curries, entrée fritters and chips, risottos, ragouts, goulashes, fresh juice shots and more. The crown in Mount Lavinia’s all-you-can-eat all-vegan buffet is the dessert bar. Guests can be excused from feeling overwhelmed by the scale and breadth of the offerings. Puddings, cakes, fruit and slices are all intricately crafted to give guests are truly luxurious Poya Day vegan culinary experience.

So how does a guest of Poya Day at Mount Lavinia Hotel tackle so many vegan dishes? Where could one possibly start? Let’s step back and plan the day in advance. It’s best to make a booking in advance by phoning ahead. Poya Day at Mount Lavinia Hotel runs from 12.30pm to 3.00pm so there’s plenty of time to try everything and still breathe in between. Make your booking at 12 noon so you have time to arrive, be seated and scope the items on offer. Mount Lavinia Hotel staff may still be bringing out some of the food from the kitchen anyway, so you can sit back with a drink first. Plus, people may still be arriving for later bookings.

Once you’re ready to eat, start out easy with a plate of salads and a small bowl of soup. Again, you have a few hours to try everything so pace yourself. This is key. Once you’ve tried the starters, take a break, chat with your friends and grab a glass of water. Then, gradually make your way around the buffet to sample the mains. Most buffet items are made early then replenished as required, so this is why arriving early works to your advantage. You get full choice of the freshest dishes before the dining hall fills.

I have heard from friends that it’s best to grab your dessert on a separate plate at the start for later, though I didn’t need to do this. My advice is keep visiting the dessert area each time you fetch more food, and stake your claim for your choices if you start to see supplies dwindle.  Again, be sure to take a break between courses and rehydrate. If Sri Lanka’s culture of unwavering hospitality is anything to go by, there’s plenty of food for everyone!

Mount Lavinia Hotels hosts its all-vegan all-you-can-eat Poya Day buffet on each Poya Day holiday monthly. The buffet costs LKR 2300 (or, just under AUD $20.00) and includes all buffet food, jugs of water for the table, pot tea and coffee afterwards. Additional drinks cost extra according to menu prices on the day. Guests of Mount Lavinia Hotel’s Poya Day buffet do not need to be a guest staying at the hotel. Bookings in advance are essential to avoid disappointment.

Mount Lavinia Hotel is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo. Taxis, private cars and Uber are available from the Airport, starting at approximately LKR 4,500.    

For buffet bookings, contact Mount Lavinia Hotel, 100 Hotel Road, Dehiwala-Mount Lavinia, Colombo, Sri Lanka. Phone: +94 112 711 711.

SriLankan Airlines flies direct from Melbourne to Colombo non-stop daily. Check the airline’s website for a full list of their departure points and code-share airline carriers. 

All views expressed in this blog post are that of Justine de Jonge. All costs incurred including transport, accommodation, excursions, meals and gratuities were paid for in full by Justine de Jonge. All prices are as of the date and time of publication.

The rest of Sri Lanka’s Poya dates for 2019, plus the 2020 Poya calendar, are below so you can plan your Poya Day Buffet visit to Mount Lavinia Hotel in advance:


Sunday 13 October
Vap Full Moon Poya Day

Tuesday 12 November
Ill Full Moon Poya Day

Wednesday 11 December
Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day


Friday 10 January
Duruthu Full Moon Poya Day

Saturday 8 February
Navam Full Moon Poya Day

Monday 9 March
Madin Full Moon Poya Day

Tuesday 7 April
Bak Full Moon Poya Day

Friday 5 June
Poson Full Moon Poya Day

Saturday 4 July
Esala Full Moon Poya Day

Monday 3 August
Nikini Full Moon Poya Day

Tuesday 1 September
Binara Full Moon Poya Day

Thursday 1 October
Adhi Vap Full Moon Poya Day

Friday 30 October
Vap Full Moon Poya Day

Sunday 29 November
Ill Full Moon Poya Day

Tuesday 29 December
Unduvap Full Moon Poya Day

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