The Esala Perehara in Kandy is an annual religious parade that brings out the very essence of Lankan culture. It is also an important festival celebrated by Buddhists in the country where thousands of devotees gather to pay homage as well as enjoy the delightful ambiance on the streets of Kandy.
Reasons behind the Kandy Esala Perahera
This divine procession is held in order to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic housed in the Dalada Maligawa (known as The Temple of the Tooth Relic). Also, four Gods, namely, Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini are also honored by the celebrations. The purpose of the festival is to ask the Gods for rain to nourish the crops in the land.
The origins of the Kandy Perahera
Sources of history state that the Kandy Perahera originated during the reign of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna of the Anuradhapura Kingdom (305 – 331 AD). It was under the verdict of the King that the Sacred Tooth Relic was taken around the city of Anuradhapura once a year. With the change of many kings and kingdoms, the Sacred Tooth Relic ended up in Kandy which was the last kingdom in Sri Lanka. From this point onwards, the divine relic has been venerated in this way for many years.
The sequence of the procession
The Kandy Perahera comprises of five processions of the Dalada Maligawa. The celebration usually begins at around 8 pm in August on a full moon night, at this time the procession party of the Sacred Tooth Relic will take the lead. This group is later followed by the procession devoted to God Natha, it comes from a Shrine facing the main temple which is said to be the most ancient structure. Next in line is the procession from the Shrine devoted to God Vishnu, followed by the procession for the deity of Katharagama.
What you will see
There is much to see when it comes to the Kandy Perehera, thus, it is one of the most anticipated events in the country. You will see elephants clad in the finest jewel studded clothes of vibrant colours. There are dancers of various styles and cultures seen in different parts of the island (the Kandyan dancers, however, take the limelight). Adding a bit of thrill and awe to the parade are stilt walkers, jugglers and fireball stuntman. Hotels in Kandy are usually booked beforehand by both locals and foreigners as properties such as Aitken Spence Hotels are easily fully booked by this period because of Sri Lanka hotel deals.
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.