Kandy Perahera; 5 facts to know about Sri Lanka’s most colourful event

From the long lists of things to in Kandy and things to do in Sri Lanka, here’s one that is an ABSOLUTE MUST – The Kandy Esala Perahera; a fusion of culture, history, tradition and an overall extravaganza of all things truly Sri Lankan.
Photo Credits: Tien Nung Ching

What is Kandy Esala Perahera?

The Kandy Perahera is one of the oldest and grandest of all festivals celebrated in Sri Lanka. Troops of dancers, well-trained jugglers, avid musicians, magical fire-breathers, and lavishly decorated elephants take the beautiful and ancient streets of Kandy in honour of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha and the four ‘guardian’ Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini.

History of the cultural extravaganza

With a history that dates back to the 3rd Century AD, the Kandy Perahera is most definitely a fusion of history and culture. It is believed to be a synthesis of two separate but interconnected processions – The Esala and Dalada.
The Esala Perahera is considered to be a ritual enacted to request the gods for rainfall and the Dalada Perahera is believed to have begun when the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India during the 4th Century AD.

The Modern Perahera dates back to the reign of the Kandyan King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe (1747 – 1781 AD). Previously, the Tooth Relic was considered private property of the King and the public never got a chance to worship it. Therefore, King Rajasinghe ordered that the Relic be taken in procession enabling the citizenry to venerate the most precious relic.
Photo Credits: Nacho y Adri

What to look out for?

The Kandy Perahera is a portrayal of Sri Lanka’s rich heritage, marked traditions and extravagant culture. The Tooth relic temple of Kandy, holds much to look out for but it puts on a spectacular show during the Perahera. Nothing is worth missing in this beautiful and colourful pageant. Every little detail is perfectly thought out and executed with precision.

The sound of the drummers and whip crackers are perfectly harmonized with the movements of the cultural dancers to give you a heavenly sensation. It is said that their colourful outfits, and their dance movements all add up to some deep meaning. For an example the elephants represent rainy clouds while whip crackers represent thunder.
Photo Credits: mlztiu

A sight not to miss are the extravagantly and lavishly dressed dancers and gymnasts from all around the country. Their grandiose and skillful moves, breathtaking flexibility, radiant and glowing colours are sure to mesmerize you. So do look out for these specialties while you’re at the Kandy Perahera.
Photo Credits: mlztiu

When is it?

The procession widely believed to be one of Asia’s most colourful and lavish pageants is held annually in the month of July or August. This year, the Perahera is scheduled to take place from the 5th to the 15th of August. The Perahera is not just another one time Perahera, what adds to its beauty is that it is a series of processions.

The Kandy Esala Perahera begins with the Kap Situveema, in which a sanctified young Jackfruit tree is cut and planted in the premises of each of the four Devales dedicated to the four guardian gods, traditionally meant to shower blessing on the King and the people. The first five nights, the “Devale Peraheras” take place within the premises of the four Devales. On the sixth night, the “Kumbal Perahera” begins and continues on for another five days. Next comes the Randoli Perahera begins after five nights of the Kumbal Perahera. Randoli refers to palanquins on which the Queens of the ruling Kings traditionally traveled.
Photo Credits: QueVin Cent

Some travel tips to make the best of the opportunity

Let us now put some of your doubts to rest.

Fret not about where to stay, we’ve got that covered for you! Cinnamon Citadel Kandy is a picturesque, plush and comfortable location situated in the heart of the hill city of Sri Lanka. The Temple of the Tooth is not too far from the Citadel hotel and also just a quick drive away from the route of the procession; comfort, luxury and ease of access to the Perahera, all in one!
Photo Credits: Emily Cramer

There are many ways to get there, it’s entirely your choice! Be it an iconic train ride through the rolling green hills, or by an easily accessible public bus or the luxurious comfort of a hired vehicle, whatever you wish can get you to Kandy within a couple of hours! Don’t let these nitty gritties hold you from making that unforgettable trip to witness the extravagant Kandy Perahera. We at Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts are always here to make your stay in Sri Lanka all the more magical!

Author: Shenella Fonseka

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