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Dalada Maligawa, Kandy is a must-visit in any traveler’s travel schedule. However, the Esala Perahera adds more popularity to this location as the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha is presented for the public to witness and worship it by carrying it through the city once a year. It was King Rajasinghe’s decision to commence such a procession. This ceremony falls in the period of July-August, gathering thousands of Buddhists, and other tourists to the Kandy streets to witness the glamorous festival.
Several records have been left behind by dignitaries and other visitors to the island such as Robert Knox, John Davy, etc. The description of the perahara. These accounts provide much evidence as to the constitution and organization of the present day perahara. Yet many features seem to have been added and some changed to suit the time and the available resources and conditions. Dalada procession and the social traditions are linked so much together; the month of Esala has been named as the procession month, because of the Esala feast. In the 18th century at the time of King Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe, the four Devala Peraharas and Dalada Perahara were amalgamated and were made series of Peraharas. The procession is a complex procedure in which various customs are involved.
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There are 4 major ceremonies heled annually, apart from the religious programs conducted on every full moon poya day.
1.Aluth Sahal Mangaliya
The purpose of the Esala Mangalaya or the Esala Perahera is to honor the Sacred tooth relic and the four guardian Gods Vishnu, Kataragama, Natha and Goddess Pattini. The Sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha is paraded through to streets of Kandy, this procession is done to obtain the blessings of the gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of Crops and the enrichment and development of the Kingdom.
The Esala Perahera starts with a ritual namely “Kap Situweema” along with other rituals conducted at various auspicious times. Whip dances, fire dances, the most famous Kandyan Dances along with other cultural dances add splendor to the event.In addition to this, there are elephants dressed up in colorful and glistening garments that walk in the procession. The Sacred Tooth Relic will be carried by the sacred casket bearing tusker that is chosen to be the one, in a golden casket. The Basnayaka Nilames (custodians of the shrines that fall under the Dalada Maligawa) also take part in the parade.The pageant ends with the “Diya Kapeema” also known as the water cutting ceremony which takes place in the Mahaweli River.
This Perahera is the only one in the world which is held for 10 consecutive days with more than 50 tuskers and elephants and more than 100 of elegantly dressed dancers and drummers.The Kandy Esala Perahera is a unique religious and cultural icon of Sri Lanka as well as a vibrant festival to all eyes.
|1st Kumbal Perahera||17th Aug 2018|
|2nd Kumbal Perahera||18th Aug 2018|
|3rd Kumbal Perahera||19th Aug 2018|
|4th Kumbal Perahera||20th Aug 2018|
|5th Kumbal Perahera||21st Aug 2018|
|1st Randoli Perahera||22nd Aug 2018|
|2nd Randoli Perahera||23rd Aug 2018|
|3rd Randoli Perahera||24th Aug 2018|
|4th Randoli Perahera||25th Aug 2018|
|5th Randoli Perahera||26th Aug 2018|
|Day Perahera||27th Aug 2018|
Whip Crackers: They have several purposes. Men parade the streets cracking their whips; Their first purpose is to clear the streets for the main Procession to pass without any disruption. The second purpose is to signal the onlookers of the arrival of the main Perahera. It is often told that celestial beings here the cracking of the whips and it serves as an invitation for them to watch the procession. They are followed by a collection of young and old devotees carrying trays of Flowers.
Elephants: Tuskers and Elephants are dressed in beautiful colorful clothes, these majestic creatures look even mightier being adorned with jewelry and shining colors. Usually, their costumes contain 3 parts: the “Netti Malaand” which is the Forehead garland, the “Kan Joduwa” which is the ear ornament and the body part. The most beautifully adorned is the Main Majestic Tusker who carries the sacred relics. He is regarded as the highlight of the whole Perehera.
Hewisi Drummers: The most important group of the whole procession. The Hewisi Drummers consist of drummers who play Sri Lankan Drums. The “Daula”, the “Thammettama” and the trumpet “Horanewa” are the drums used on this occasion. The reason why the Drummers are regarded as the most important group is that they provide the rhythm to which the other performers perform.
Dancers: There are three types of Dancers who move through the Procession. First comes the “Vannam” dancers. They specialize in singing Vannams, which are verses sung to give their performance a lyrical music. Next comes the “Ves Natuma” dancers. These dancers have to a long strenuous training in order to perfect this dance. It is a style fo dancing which comes from the hill city of Sri Lanka, Kandy. This dance requires the dancers to wear a beautiful headdress, this headdress is the reason why it takes years to perfect this dance due to its weight and size. Finally comes The Pantheru Dancers. These dancers have a small musical instrument called “Pantheru” which they use while dancing.
Borukakul Karayo: These performers specialize in walking on stilts. They walk above the crowds on two long pieces of wood and leer and sneer at the spectators for their amusement.