The Kandy Esala Perahera is the oldest and grandest Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka, also known as The Festival of the Tooth and the festival held honer of Relic of the tooth of the Lord Buddha. Book Kandy Esala Perahera Seats online to view the grandest festival in south Asia. Perehera will start on 02nd Aug 2022, Final Randoli procession will be held on 12th Aug 2022.
The world-famous Kandy Esala Perahera is held to honor the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha and the four Guardian gods Vishnu, Kataragama, Natha, and Goddess Pattini. The pageant is held in Esala full moon day which appears between July and August. And final dates will be decided by the Diyawadana Nilame aka chief lay head or trustee of the Dalada Maligawa. The tentative date for the year 2020 will be 25th July to 04th August 2020.
This cultural spectacle recognized as the grandest festival in south Asia, that reflects the religious and cultural value in Sri Lanka. The pageant is full of traditional dancers and various acts, filled with astonishment like 'Wewal Natuma' that you can not see anywhere else but here in Sri Lanka. The Perahara will not stop there, it consists of a large number of tuskers and elephants, traditional drums, torch bears, fire eaters, jugglers, and acrobats to make it more fascinating and vivid.
When the war-torn situation of India threatens the existence of the tooth relic of Lord Buddha, king Guhasiwa decided to take the relic to Sri Lanka for safekeeping. King himself assigns this important job to his son-in-law prince Dantha and his own daughter princess Hemamala.
Their ship secretly landed to Lankapattana during the reign of Sirimeghavanna of Anuradhapura in 4th century BC and handed over the tooth relic to king King himself.
The King Sirimeghavanna enshrined it Meghagiri Vihara, now it is called as Isurumuniya Viharaya. Safeguarding the relic became king's responsibility, overtime custodianship of the relic came to signify the right to rule.
Time passed and reigning monarchs used to build tooth relic temples considerably close to their royal palace. Last Sinhalese King of Sri Lanka, Vira Narendra Sinha of Kandy built the present-day temple
Modern Esala Perahera came to be, from a fusion, The Esla, and Dalada. Esala Perahera, which dates back to the 3rd century BC, was a ritual performed to request the gods for bringing rainfall for cultivation.
After the Kingdom fell to the British invasion in 1815. Sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha was handed over to the Buddhist clergy, by the British administration. The procession was banned. It is believed because of this prohibition the country was suffered from a severe drought. Then the governor Edward Bance decided to held procession continuously according to the advice of Mahanayaka Thero's (chief monks) and Kandyan chief.
After performing the procession heavy rain was lash surprising all the British people. As the procession made history, this rain is recorded as ‘Dalada Wathura’.
Rank "Diyawadana Nilame" was appointed by Buddhist clergy for administrative matters and caretake of the Tooth Relic in Dalada Maligawa, up to date the Diyawadana Nilame do supervise and hold the responsibilities to protect the standard of historical tradition in the procession by getting advice and blesses from the Mahanayaka Theros(chief monks) of Malwathu and Asgiri temple, two Buddhist monasteries. These two temple holds the custodianship of sacred tooth relic.
The procession begins with planting Kap at the auspicious time that prepared by astrologists. The main reason for planting Kap is to protect participants in the procession activities from any obstruction. Also believe that gods and goddesses in ‘four maha Dewalaya’ shrine of god Natha, the shrine of god Vishnu, the shrine of god Kataragama, and the shrine of goddess Paththini give their blesses to them.
At the auspicious time, the young jack fruit tree which doesn’t bear fruits is cut by the priest at the shrine of god Vishnu. The sandalwood scented water sprinkles to the jack fruit tree and offers the nine kinds of flowers and oil lamps. Cannonballs are fired to mark the beginning of ceremony which can be heard all across Kandy The priest of the shrine of the god Vishnu does his prayers to all gods requesting protection.
The procession starts after planting the Kap ceremony, Procession composed of five major entities, The Devale Perahera, The Kumbal Perahera, The Randoli Perahera, Diya Kepeema, and the Day Perahera.
In the beginning, whip crackers walk who signify thundering and lightning next is ‘Pandampaliya’ the amazing dance that carrying fireball involves a lot of acrobatic movements. The purpose of these two items is to clear the path for the procession. Then the elephants and tuskers can be seen. The first tusker bears the paramount Rala with a white costume and triangle hat. He carries ‘Sannasa’ on his both hands containing the document regarding religious activities of the procession and the properties of the Dalada Maligawa.
Hewisi group take the important place in the procession, drummers in Hewisi group beat their drums as a religious ritual to sacred tooth relic. Start of the beat, welcoming beat, walking beat, Walinada beat is performed with the music given by the musician.
Kandyan dance also can be seen in the procession. It is a native dance in the Kandy area that identifies the Kandyan tradition, traditionally performed only by male dancers in Srilanka. The most spectacular performance with powerful footwork, leaps whirls can be seen at the pageant. Srilanka people called it a Udarata dance.
Maligawa elephant that wearing decorated costumes carries the golden casket that includes the sacred tooth relic of Buddha. When he walking, all the walking path is covered with Pawada (white clothes) it is followed by two teams of the Kandyan dancers as the chain of dancers. Diyawadana Nilame walks behind it with the newly stitched costume.
Four shrines of gods processions marched after the Maligawa procession firstly shrine of Natha then shrine of Vishnu, then, the shrine of god Kataragama which includes Kavadi dance that uses wooden contraptions studded with the peacock feather. People carry it to their shoulders and dance. The last one is the shrine of Pattni that is the only procession that women can participate in.
First, five nights of the procession is known as the Devale Perahera. Drummers and tuskers take part without any ceremonial costume. Devale Peraheras is dedicated to the four shrines of gods and goddesses. Performers take gold armaments with them as a token of gods accompanied by music mainly composed of drumming and spearman with shield, flag bearers, and canopy bearers. The Kumbal Perahera begins on the sixth night and continues for five days, This Perahera supposed to be more magnificent than Devala Perahera. Kumble Perahera joins the awaiting Devale Peraheras and leads the procession, with the relic casket, which is a replica for the Tooth Relic is fixed inside the Ransivige fastened to the Maligawa Elephant.
The Randoli Perahera commences following five nights of the Kumbal Perahera. It is more spectacular than Kumbal Perehara (procession). In the past, the queen also paraded in the palanquin. It has stopped because the participating of the queen is not appropriate with sacred tooth relic. But the palanquins still appear at the Randoli procession. That is the reason to called Randoli to this procession. Pinnacle of The Entire Perahera procession falls on the last day of Randoli procession on full moon Poya day with full blast creating the cultural miracle of south Asia.
After the Randoli procession, the festival ends with a water cutting ceremony. The next day morning a Day Perahera is held to mark the end of the ceremony.
By heading toward Mahaweli river banks in Getabe Kandy. The main priest in the shrine of gods, walk to the middle of the river and marks a circle in the water from the golden sward, then the water is collected from that place will be kept over the year, till the next procession. At last Diyawadana Nilame and Basnayake Nilame officially inform the president of Srilanka that procession concluded successfully. All ceremony comes to an end after informing the president of Srilanka.