The Sri Lanka Travel Specialists
The Kandy Perahera, a ritual that has been taking place for hundreds of years, is an experience of a lifetime and considered one of the most spectacular festivals in Asia. It is a key element in Kandy’s tourism calendar with thousands of holidaymakers mingling with excited locals and religious devotees.
On the Esala full moon day of August each year, the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, encased in a golden casket, is taken in procession, on the back of the temple elephant along the streets of Kandy.
Scores of elephants all dressed in their finery, Kandyan chiefs in their traditional royal attire, thousands of dancers, drummers, flag bearers, and Buddhist monks, all walk in procession in honour of Lord Buddha. Thousands of people line the streets of Kandy to get a glimpse of the golden casket and to pay homage.
A Perahera is a cultural procession - an ancient historic ritual where tradition, religion, and the arts all come together. Musicians, dancers, chieftains and hundreds of elephants dressed in glittering royal finery move to the rhythm of the drums and parade along the streets for several nights for all to see. Several Peraheras are conducted by Buddhist temples across the country at different times of the year. Below we list some of the grandest.
January: Duruthu Perahera in Kelaniya
Situated six miles from Colombo, the ancient Kelani Raja Maha Viharaya with a history that dates back nearly 2,563 years stands beside the Kelani River. According to the Mahavamsa, Lord Buddha stopped at this ancient temple during a visit to Sri Lanka in 523 BC where he was invited to preach at the invitation of the king. Each year, on the full moon day of January, the annual procession known as the Duruthu Perahera is held. The procession displays the ancient traditions, cultural heritage, traditional folklore, folk music and the rhythmic dance forms and drum beats, which have developed throughout the ages around Buddhism and Buddhist practices in the island.
February: Navam Perahera in Colombo
Colombo's streets come alive in February for the Navam Perahera organised by the Gangaramaya Temple located in the heart of the city. This colourful procession displays traditional folklore, music and the rhythmic dance forms. Dancers, drummers and flag bearers represent the different provinces from across the island. Chieftains in traditional attire and scores of elephants dressed in glittering cloaks are all a part of this colourful pageant in honour of Lord Buddha.
July: Kataragama Perahera
The Kataragama Perahera is another fascinating experience. This Perahera depicts Hindu folklore, music and dance forms, as well as fire walking in sacrifice and devotion to God Kataragama. Held during the month of Esala in July, Kataragama becomes full of sound and colour when the Perahera is held for two weeks in honour of God Skandha, the warrior god of Kataragama.
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