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The Kataragama Perahera takes place annually during the months of July and August. This Perahera is a part of the Esala Perahera which takes part in Kandy; It is dedicated to the Hindu God of Wisdom, Skanda also known to Sri Lankans as Kataragama Deviyo. God Skanda is said to have six heads, twelve arms and twenty names. In the Kataragama temple, There are shrines dedicated to Gods Skanda, Ganesha, Vishnu also the Goddesses Kali and Pattini and Kataragama's two consorts Valli Amman and Thevani Amman.
Like other for Peraheras thousands of Locals from all over the country and Tourists from all over the world come to witness this colorful spectacle. Drummers and Dancers clad in beautifully decorated clothes walk and dance and sing among the Elephants, who in turn to are beautifully adorned. Also, another notable feature is the use of Kaavadi from the Dancers. Kaavadi is an arched pole decorated with peacock feathers and colored paper. Pilgrims carry these on their shoulders while dancing to the rhythm produced by trumpets and drums. The infliction of Physica; pain is used as an atonement for sins as part of the rituals in Kataragama. Pilgrims pierce their cheeks, tongue, and lips in honor of this, there are also some who pierce their backs with hooks and then drag along carts or hang from beams.The Perahera usually progresses from the Maha Devale to the Valli amma Devale then it proceeds on to the main road back to the Maha Devale again. The final Perahera held on the last day of this ritual will travel all the way to Kiri Vehera.
Kataragama Perehera is a festival that coincides with the new Moon in the Esala month. This two-week Perahera attracts thousands - Hindus and Buddhists -, many of who make the pilgrimage on foot from as far afield as Jaffna in Sri Lanka’s northern peninsula.
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When talking about the Kataragama Perahera is definitely noteworthy talking about the “Pada Yatra”. It is when Pilgrims travel from long distances on a pilgrimage to Kataragama.The Pilgrimage usually starts from the Jaffna Peninsula, the pilgrimage takes several months to complete. The amount of pilgrims increases as they travel further towards Kataragama. The Pilgrims usually sleep in temples or under the open sky.
Dates of the Kataragama Perahera:
|1st Perahera||24th July 2018|
|2nd Perahera||25th July 2018|
|3rd Perahera||26th July 2018|
|4th Perahera||27th July 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.