A great festival, instituted by King Mahādāṭhika Mahānāga on the Cetiyagiri mountain. Carpets were laid from the Kadamba-nadī to the mountain, in order that people might approach the mountain with clean feet; the road was decorated and illuminated, shops were erected and largesse distributed. There were mimes, songs and music. Lamps were lit throughout the island and even on the sea for one yojana round (Mhv.xxxiv.75 ﬀ; AA.i.13). It is said (Vism.376; Vism.Trs.ii.436, n.4) that on the day of the festival Māra, wishing to spoil it, rained down a shower of coal, but an elder created earth in the sky, thus preventing the coal from falling. The most costly offerings given during this feast to any monk — namely, a pair of garments — fell to the lot of a young novice, Loṇagirivāsī Tissa, in spite of the efforts of the king’s ministers to get them into the hands of the older monks. It was because the novice had developed the practices evoking friendship ¹ (sārāṇīya-dhammā) (DA.ii.535; AA.ii.653 f; MA.i.545 f).
The festival was probably connected with the Giribhanda-vihāra, in which case that was the reason for the name.
¹ See the Mahāsi Sayādaw’s discourse on the Practices Evoking Friendship.