Buddhism is one of the biggest religion to about 300 million people around the world. Different countries and areas will celebrate and worship up to hundred unique ways. Mainly located in Asia, many people travel up to 15 hours to witness and experience the annual festival. Ultimately, if you want an authentic and exotic one you should probably check out Kandy Perahera in Sri Lanka. Be sure to arrange your Sri Lanka trip and include the perahera on the checklist.
Kandy Perahera in Sri Lanka
Kandy Perahera is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. Taking place in July or August, it is one of the most spectacular week with decorating elephants, colourful fire-dancers, drums and more. The highlight is the presence of priests and a holy relic borne atop a richly decorated stately tusker. The Kandy Perahera has two separate parades. Dating back to the 3rd Century BC, the Esala Perahera was a ritual enactment to request the gods for rainfall and in the 4th Century CE the Dalada is to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha.
The Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha
Old tales claimed that when Lord Buddha died his body was flamed to ashes but remained a tooth. 800 years after Buddha’s death, the tooth made its way to Sri Lanka in 1775, when Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, King of Kandyan, ordered to display it once a year for the public to pay homage to it. For the rest of the days, the relic is sits in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth, also as Sri Dalada Maligawa in Kandy.
Sri Lanka. The annual pageant, the Kandy Perahera, culminates with a procession during the day. Elephants, dancers, drummers and flag bearers leave from and return to the Dalada Maligawa or Temple of the Tooth. The city of Kandy is in the hill country, 72 miles or 130 km from Colombo.
In the month of July and August, Kandy becomes a super hot spot for the locals to commute to this big city. On the other hand, the festival overwhelmingly attracts tourist around the world. Obviously, the accommodation can be expensive because hotels sells in almost blink of an eye. Although planning ahead is advised, getting the exact dates of the festival may be difficult. Many people come hours (or even days) in advance to secure a good vantage point.
The parade is not a baby Disney parade. The hardcore perahera takes up to 5 to 6 hours, meaning the crowd has to be patient and peaceful. Be sure to carry water, wear light clothing and comfortable shoes. It is a 10 day festival and the event progresses extravagantly till the final night for the grand parade.
The parade kickstarts by firing a canon, followed by whip crackers and fire jugglers swinging flame torches. Then follows the hundred decorated elephants, the outfits are illuminates by fairy lights with twirling dancers, acrobats and drummers alongside. Get ready and watch the electrifying parade in front of your eyes. Hear the cheering of the crowd and feel the smoky air with the heart beating drums. Last but not least, the enormous tusker carries the replica of the casket of the holy tooth.