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Esala Perahera

Listed under Festivals in Kandy, Sri Lanka.

  • Photo of Esala Perahera
  • Photo of Esala Perahera
  • Photo of Esala Perahera
Photo of Esala Perahera
Photo by flickr user S Baker
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If you’re in Sri Lanka around full moon time at the end of July then you may be lucky enough to experience the fanciest Sri Lankan festival of all. This Buddhist celebration takes place in Kandy; it has over the centuries become not only a long standing Sri Lankan tradition, but a symbol of the country itself too.

Parades take place over several days; the Kandyan dancer is the most prominent figure in them. Dancers glide past spectators in the most elaborate and eloquent native costumes consisting of 13 yards of cloth, over the top head dresses, and a whole load of delicate body ornaments.

You could always spend time comparing the dancers’ costumes with that of the elephants that roam around in exotic silk costumes. The numbers of elephants increase daily, ensuring that the festival is more spectacular each night. If elephants are not spectacular enough for you then the fire dances, music, whip dances- not forgetting the tooth relic of Lord Buddha- should be set to impress.

Written by  Lucinda Day.

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Esala Perahera

This colourful pageant begun in Sri Lanka’s mountain region as a rain ritual performed to prevent droughts. Worshipers honour Buddha’s sacred tooth relic held in the festivals capital, Kandy, with an extravaganza of evening parades, music and dancing.

The first stage of the festival involves a simple tree planting ceremony, but as the festivities progress the events become more and more spectacular via whip cracking and fire eating finally reaching a crescendo at the parade on the fifth evening of a hundred costumed elephants. The final part of the festival returns to the solemnity of the initial stages in the water cutting ceremony where priests use sacred knives to cut traditional ripple patterns into the nearby river.

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