Splendour of Kandy Maha Esala Perahera
Kandy will be showered with the blessings of the Triple Gem,
especially during the month of August, as the festival season started on
July 19, 2012 with the Kapsituvima followed by Kumbal and Randoli
Peraheras and the final Esala Maha Perahera on August 1, 2012 night,
ends on August 2, 2012 after the Day Perahera and the Water-Cutting
Kandy Esala Perahera parading the
streets with its beauty and majesty.
Kandy Esala Maha Perahera leaves the octagonal Dalada Maligawa
(Temple of the Tooth) winding its way through the streets of Kandy
amidst thundering shouts of ‘sadhu, sadhu’ from the countless devotees
who line up the streets and occupy every vantage point to catch a
glimpse of this splendid spectacle.
These numbers will be swelled by thousands of tourists from across
the world who come to witness the grand pageant, irrespective of their
religious faiths and beliefs.
The festival can only be compared with that of the Carnival in Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil, though they are poles apart in purpose and set-up, but
are the greatest draw cards for tourists who bring vibrancy and economic
boost to the two cities.
The Esala Maha Perahera is the grandest Buddhist procession in Sri
Lanka and the display of the Tooth Relics of the Buddha while Rio de
Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World
celebrated by Brazil and other Catholic countries. Both festivals
display most endearing artistic and cultural events, including
traditional dancers in breath-taking costumes unique to their countries.
The Rio carnival, as the name suggests, is more bent on fun and
frolic with erotic dancers dancing away from their chariots and some on
foot to the explosive beat of drums and deafening music.
The sacred Tooth of the Buddha is reported to have been retrieved
secretly from the funeral pyre and later brought to Sri Lanka during the
reign of Kitty Siri Meghavarna (Kit Siri Mevan) by the daughter of the
King of Kalinga, travelling in disguise with her husband as ascetics
with the relic concealed in the hair of the princess to prevent it
falling into the hands of hostile kings.
The Kandy Esala Perahera, in fact, has its origins from a similar
procession held in Anuradhapura when the tooth was taken out from the
shrine specially built within the outer walls of Thuparama, where it was
originally kept, along the streets decorated with paintings of Jataka
stories to a special temple in the Abhayagiri Monastery.
Kandy Esala Perahera is a classic
display of traditional Kandyan dancing and their dresses and
costumes. Picture by Sunil Gunawardana, Kundasala Group
Here, huge crowds gathered to pay homage to the relics. Because of
the Dravidian invasions and the fear of falling of the Sacred Tooth
Relics into the hands of the ferocious invaders, the Tooth Relic was
moved from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya and other cities,
and finally to Kandy as the seat of the Kingdom changed.
Now it lies in resplendent glory in a golden lotus blossom in the
I t is only a replica of the Tooth that is carried through the
streets in a casket on the back of the majestic Maligawa Tusker draped
in a glittering and highly colourful dress illuminated by hundreds of
twinkling electric bulbs (globes). An exclusively embodied canopy is
held above it.
Kandy Perahera is a classic display of traditional Kandyan dancing
and their dresses and costumes made extraordinarily elegant by the
torchbearers who make the entire route alight.
The whip-crackers, who head the procession in order to announce the
approach of the procession and for the people to clear the way; the
drummers, dancers both male and female; acrobats; and the illuminated
elephants that make their way in measured steps is indeed a
heart-throbbing spectacle to watch.
It is, no doubt, a tribute to the ingenuity and cleverness of
trainers and mahouts to domesticate these huge and the strongest animals
of the wild to take the leading part in the procession, displaying the
solemnity of the procession and the reverence in which the Sacred Tooth
Relic is held by Buddhists, and even surpassing humans.