The Temple of the Tooth or “Sri Dalada Maligawa” as its known in local terms is an important religious symbol for those of Buddhist faith. This priceless relic is said to hold the upper left canine tooth of Lord Buddha. It is also said that it was smuggled into the island by Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamali from India after being removed from the holy body of Buddha as he lay in his deathbed. This sacred tooth was also considered a symbol of power when it came to internal politics. Centuries ago when Sinhalese Kings ruled the island, keeping the tooth relic safe was top priority because he who possessed this sacred item was seen as the ruler of the empire.
After years of changing hands and seeing new temple sanctuaries where it was placed for safe keeping, the sacred tooth is now resting in the hill capital of Kandy where local pilgrims and foreigners visit this temple daily to witness the magnificent artistry within the premises and to pay their respects to the sacred tooth itself. An annual parade is held in the city of Kandy to show off this relic. This tradition started off as a means of displaying the ownership of the tooth which was carried out by various kings who claimed it. Now this event is a much awaited cultural festival in the local calendar and is even anticipated by foreigners who travel to the region. Colorful, fiery dancers line up along the street dancing and breathing fire as they pave the way for the elephant parade that follows carrying the sacred tooth relic.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Temple of the Tooth is decorated in hundreds of colorful paintings that depict certain historically valuable religious happenings which are related to the current location of the tooth and its previous owners.
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