Abaya Dhana – Cow Release on Full Moon Day. The releasing of cattle meant for slaughter is done as a meritorious act in Sri Lanka.
“Dāna” (Dhana) means giving or donating. It is one of the highest qualities of human civilization, accepted and appreciated by all religions and societies. The highest stage of dāna is ‘Abhaya Dāna’ which is freeing a living creature from fear. ‘Abhaya’ is a combination of two words ‘a’ and ‘bhaya’. It means rescuing animals and other beings from being killed and to free them from the fear of death.
For 25 centuries Sri Lanka was a nation that had prohibited animal slaughter of any kind by royal decree. The Buddhist practices were against animal sacrifice on the premise that all living beings including sentient beings should not be killed but treated with compassion.