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Kandy Esala Perahera: Sri Lanka’s Most Spectacular Festival

The Kandy Esala Perahera, also known as the Kandy Festival of the Tooth, is a vibrant celebration of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage. This festival takes place in the ancient hill capital of Kandy and is one of the country’s most significant and impressive cultural events. The festival is a four-day extravaganza that culminates in the majestic Kandy Randoli Perahera, a grand procession of richly decorated elephants, dancers, and musicians.

The festival’s roots date back over 2,000 years when Sri Lanka’s rulers believed that possessing a tooth relic of the Buddha would bring them prosperity and power. The tooth relic, which is said to be the left upper canine tooth of the Buddha, was brought to Sri Lanka in the 4th century AD and has been enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy since the 16th century.

The Kandy Esala Perahera is held annually in July or August, and the exact dates are determined by the lunar calendar. The festival is a massive undertaking that requires months of planning, preparation, and rehearsals. The streets of Kandy are transformed into a carnival-like atmosphere as locals and tourists gather to witness the spectacle.

The festival begins with the planting of a ceremonial jackfruit tree at the Temple of the Tooth, followed by the Kumbal Perahera, a smaller procession that takes place over the first four days of the festival. The Kumbal Perahera features dancers, drummers, and torchbearers who lead a procession of elephants adorned in brightly colored costumes and ornate jewelry.

The grand finale of the festival is the Kandy Randoli Perahera, which takes place on the final day of the festival. This procession is the most spectacular and popular event of the festival, and it attracts thousands of spectators from around the world. The Kandy Randoli Perahera features over 100 elephants, each decorated in exquisite costumes and carrying a replica of the sacred tooth relic. The elephants are accompanied by a retinue of dancers, drummers, and musicians who perform traditional Sri Lankan music and dance.

The highlight of the Kandy Randoli Perahera is the Maligawa Perahera, where the sacred tooth relic is paraded through the streets in a gold casket placed on the back of a majestic elephant. This event is a momentous occasion and is watched by millions of people worldwide who view the procession on television or social media.

The Kandy Esala Perahera is not just a celebration of Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage, but it is also an opportunity for locals and tourists to come together and celebrate unity and diversity. The festival provides a platform for traditional artists, dancers, and musicians to showcase their talent and keep their art forms alive. The festival also generates significant economic activity and provides a boost to the local tourism industry.

In conclusion, the Kandy Esala Perahera is an unparalleled experience that showcases Sri Lanka’s rich cultural heritage and traditional art forms. The festival is a visual spectacle that is not to be missed and offers a unique insight into Sri Lanka’s vibrant culture and traditions. The Kandy Esala Perahera is a true celebration of unity, diversity, and harmony and is a must-see event for anyone visiting Sri Lanka.