Each year, with the arrival of Summer, city of Kandy in heartland Sri Lanka also comes to life with preparations for the ‘Esala Perahera’, also known as ‘Dalada Perahera’ and ‘Kandy Perahera’. This is one of Sri Lanka’s foremost religious and cultural celebrations. Since the arrival of Buddha’s tooth relic to Sri Lanka, the Perahara was held every year with a huge number of locals and foreigners.
The Esala Perahera is an elegant parade that reveals the various talents of the Kandyan people. The procession begins with the whip crackers announcing the commencement of the event. Heralded by thousands of Kandyan drummers, a host of majestic elephants, adorned in elaborately embroidered cloaks, are led by the brilliantly caparisoned Maligawa Tusker. The Perahera is the best place where you could witness the elephant march. A herd of about 10 to 12 elephants are adorned with these colourful costumes and taken across the road by mahouts. Also, one of the elephants carries the casket with the Buddha’s tooth relic on its head.
The Esala Perahera is considered one of the most beautiful of processions in all of Asia and is held yearly to beseech blessings of the gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of crops and to enrich the lands of our kingdom. Procession itself signifies rain and different items in the procession subsequently brings life to the phenomena of rain, creating a spectacle of highest quality and grandeur to the onlookers.
Five separated Peraharas
The Esala Perahera comprises of five separate Peraheras – 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 peraheras are from the shrines to god of war and victory Katharagama, and goddess of chastity Pattini.
Best Places to watch biggest Randoli Perahara
Hours before the Maha Randoli Perahera, almost all the road sides, balconies, roof tops, upstairs windows and even roofs are jam-packed with spectators, both local and foreign. Kandy Perahera starting time is normally after the sunset, at around 6.30 p.m. to 7.00 p.m. in the evening. Queens Hotel, Dalada Veediya, Yatinuwara Veediya some of the best places for you to watch the Esala Perahera. The Day Perahera can be viewed from the D. S. Senanayake Street and the King Street. Normally, the procession goes on for about 4 – 5 hours, continuously.
The Kandy Perahera usually runs for around 10 days starting in the first week of August. You need to book in advance to get seats if you are really impressed about this festival. Plan your visit to Sri Lanka during this Perahera season to witness this amazing festival of the sacred tooth, which attracts thousands of visitors from around the world.