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The History of Kandy Esala Perahera: A Celebration of Sri Lankan Culture

History of Kandy Esala

The Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand annual cultural event that takes place in Kandy, Sri Lanka, during the month of August. This event is a celebration of Sri Lankan culture and religion, and it draws thousands of people from all over the world to witness its grandeur. The origins of the Kandy Esala Perahera date back to ancient times, and the event has undergone many changes over the centuries to become the magnificent spectacle that it is today.

The History of the Kandy Esala Perahera

The origins of the Kandy Esala Perahera can be traced back to the 3rd century BCE, during the reign of King Kithsiri Meghawanna. It is believed that the festival was first held to honor the Tooth Relic of the Buddha, which was brought to Sri Lanka by Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamala from India in the 4th century CE. The tooth relic was eventually enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, which became the focal point of the Esala Perahera.

Over the centuries, the Esala Perahera has undergone many changes, and its significance has evolved to reflect the changing times. In the early days, the event was a simple procession of dancers and drummers, but over time it grew in size and grandeur to become the magnificent spectacle that it is today. The first recorded account of the Kandy Esala Perahera dates back to the 13th century, during the reign of King Bhuvanekabahu IV.

During the Kandyan Kingdom, the Esala Perahera became a highly ritualistic event that was meant to appease the gods and ensure the prosperity of the kingdom. It was a time of great celebration, with feasting, dancing, and music filling the streets of Kandy. The Esala Perahera was also a time when the king would make important announcements and proclamations to his subjects.

The Modern Kandy Esala Perahera

Today, the Kandy Esala Perahera is a grand celebration of Sri Lankan culture and religion, and it draws thousands of people from all over the world. The event takes place over ten days, and it is a time of great festivity and reverence. The procession is led by a majestic elephant that carries the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, which is considered to be the most important religious relic in Sri Lanka.

The procession includes a colorful array of dancers, musicians, and drummers, as well as dozens of elaborately decorated elephants. The elephants are adorned with brightly colored fabrics, jewels, and intricate designs, and they are a sight to behold as they march through the streets of Kandy. The procession culminates in a grand finale, where the Tooth Relic is returned to the Temple of the Tooth.

Conclusion

The Kandy Esala Perahera is a celebration of Sri Lankan culture and religion that has been passed down from generation to generation. It is a time when the people of Sri Lanka come together to honor their traditions and pay homage to the gods. The event is a testament to the enduring spirit of the Sri Lankan people, and it is a must-see for anyone who wants to experience the rich cultural heritage of this beautiful country.

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Sanjeewa Uderathne