Kandy Esala Perahera, known as The Festival of the Tooth, unfolds annually in Kandy, Sri Lanka, showcasing a vibrant cultural mosaic steeped in religious reverence. Centered around the veneration of the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha housed at the Sri Dalada Maligawa, this historical procession fascinates with its elaborate costumes and profound spirituality.
Tradition comes to life through a procession featuring traditional Kandyan dances, including the mesmerizing fire and whip dance. Elephants, adorned in opulent garments and lights, majestically march in unison. The highlight is the replica Tooth Relic, placed on an elephant and paraded through the streets, symbolizing a fusion of two ancient festivals – the Esala and Dalada.
Learn about the Buddhist Festival of the Tooth
The Esala festival, dating back to the 3rd century BC, originated as a rain-request ritual. Meanwhile, the Dalada festival emerged in the 4th century AD, marking the arrival of the Sacred Tooth Relic in Sri Lanka from India.
Buddhist literature reveals that the concept of grand pageants for Buddha gained prominence during the reign of Emperor Asoka of India. The Kandy Perahera epitomizes this tradition, intertwining Buddhist and Hindu customs while showcasing the profound cultural heritage of the Sinhalas.
Esala Perahera, steeped in centuries-old traditions, offers a unique and authentic experience…
Rooted in history, the perahera pageant draws inspiration from the “Dantha Dhathu Charitha” or “Dalada Siritha,” a manuscript from the reign of Parakramabahu IV. This ancient text outlines 38 statutes that dictate the proper conduct of a perahera pageant. It mandates the cleaning of the Shrine Room at an auspicious hour, the exquisite decoration of canopies with silk clothes, and the offering of rice, flowers, and oil lamps on the seventh day morning. As evening falls, the city transforms into a celestial spectacle, adorned in sacred splendor.
Kandy Esala Perahera – paying homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha
Elephants, adorned in opulent garments and lights, majestically march in unison.
As the evening falls, the city transforms into a celestial spectacle, draped in splendor with profound religious significance.
The procession, led by the chief priests of the Uttara Mula Sect and personnel of the Ganavesi and Kilin castes, moves the Sacred Relic casket with utmost veneration. Esala Perahera, steeped in centuries-old traditions, offers a unique and authentic experience, transporting attendees into the heart of a cultural extravaganza that transcends time.
The Grandeur of The Festival of the Tooth in Kandy
According to Sri Lankan legends, after the Buddha died in 543 BC, his disciple Khema retrieved his left canine tooth from the sandalwood pyre at Kushinagar.
Kandy Esala Perahera transcends cultural boundaries, opening its vibrant celebrations to the public and attracting a diverse audience. Every year, tourists from around the world visit Kandy to witness its grand festival, while locals participate with religious reverence.
The festival is a significant cultural event in Sri Lanka that represents the country’s diverse religious traditions and historical heritage. It showcases common customs and festivities across the region, promoting cultural understanding and unity. Kandy Esala Perahera is a remarkable opportunity that provides visitors with a distinctive chance to experience and cultivate cultural understanding.
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