Sri Lanka is famous for its glamorous religious processions. Thus the Kandy Esala Perahera, one of Sri Lanka's most famous and fascinating religious festivals. Usually this colourful procession takes place every year in the hill-capital Kandy, in the full-moon month of Esala in the months of July and August.
The main reason behind this historic procession is to seek blessings for a good harvest from the gods. Ten days of increasingly hectic activity conclude in an ancient, awe-inspiring procession that for centuries has drawn religious devotees, and more recently tourists around the world, to Kandy's narrow hill-streets.
Heralded by thousands of Kandyan drummers, a host of majestic elephants, adorned in elaborately embroidered cloaks, are led by the brilliantly caparisoned Maligawa Tusker. Decorated from trunk to toe, he carries a huge canopy that shelters, a replica of the cask containing the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha.
The Esala Perahera actually comprises of five separate processions - four from the Kandy devales (shrines) to the deities - with order of precedence maintained throughout. Led by the Dalada Maligawa Perahera, the second is to Natha, a deity of special importance to Kandy, believed to be Buddha-in-waiting. The third is to Sri Lanka's Guardian Vishnu, also one of the three great Hindu gods and an important figure in representing the crossover between Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. Fourth and fifth processions are from the shrines to god of war and victory Katharagama, and goddess of chastity Pattini.
If you intend to visit Sri Lanka during the Perahera season, do give us a call to make arraignments to view this enchanting procession live, that will no doubt be an experience you will remember forever.