Thursday

A Glimpse of Festival-ing Sri Lanka style at Kandy Esala Perahera 2014,photos by Emily Nash

With all this talk of festivals in the UK, I thought I'd share some photos I've been sent from my adventuring friend Emily.  Taking place over ten days the Esala Perahera in Kandy, Sri Lanka fuses pageant, religion and tradition in a colourful, musical, dancing and singing spectacle.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~

The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers and lavishly decorated elephants. It is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by Buddha after he attained enlightenment.

The Sinhalese term ‘Perahera’ means a parade of musicians, dancers, singers, acrobats and various other performers, accompanied by a large number of caparisoned Tuskers and Elephants parading the streets in celebration of a religious event.



Kandy Esala Perahera 2014

Kandy Esala Perahera 2014

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
The festival takes place in honour of the Sacred Tooth Relic and the four ‘guardian’ Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini, where the Kandy Maligawa Perahera is followed in order by those of the Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Pattini ‘Devales’ (Temples dedicated to these Gods) which are situated in the vicinity of the Kandy Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth).

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~


After the Kandyan Kingdom fell to the British in 1815, the custody of the Tooth Relic was handed over to the Buddhist Clergy. In the absence of the King, a lay custodian called the Diyawadana Nilame was appointed to handle routine administrative matters. The purpose of the Kandy Esala Perahera Procession is to beseech blessings of the gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of crops and to enrich the lands of the kingdom.
~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~

This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha through the streets of Kandy city which is done with exceptional panache. This is considered as one of the most beautiful pageants in the Asia.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
The first ritual ‘Kap Situweema’ (planting of a sanctified young Jackfruit Tree) traditionally starts off Perahera. The ritual is performed according to an auspicious time decided by astrologers. The Jackfruit tree is sprinkled with sandalwood scented water and offerings are made of nine kinds of flowers and an oil lamp with nine wicks. The priest of the Maha Vishnu Devale (Vishnu Temple) recites his prayers to all the gods.

~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
Begun in the fourth century AD, with the arrival of Prince Dantaha and Princess Hemamala, son-in-law and daughter of King Guhasiva of Kalinga in India.  Visiting Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna the King decreed that the Relic should be taken round the city of Anuradhapura once a year.

The most revealing narration of the Esala Perehera is found in the book written by the Chinese pilgrim ‘Fa Hien’ who visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century A.D. The sporadic invasions by the Dravidian Kingdoms resulted in the shifting of the seat of the kingdom from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, then to Dambadeniya and thereafter to other cities. In each retreat, a new temple was constructed to enshrine the Sacred Tooth Relic. Finally, after the shift of the capital to Kandy, the Relic has been undisturbed. ever since and the Esala Perahera has been held annually to rejoice and honour the Sacred Tooth Relic.
~ Kandy Esala Perahera 2014
Photo by Emily Nash ~
Info courtesy of http://www.discoversrilanka.com/events/kandy-esala-perahera/
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