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Kandy Esala Perahera

The Esala Perahera in Kandy is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fireball acrobats, and lavishly decorated elephants. This is held in Esala, which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. Kandy Esala Perahera lasts for ten days while various festivities can be witnessed right throughout.

The Esala Perahera in Kandy is celebrated to honor the Sacred Tooth Relic and the four ‘guardian’ Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini. The Kandy Maligawa Perahera is followed in order by those of the Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Pattini ‘Devales’ (Temples dedicated to these Gods) which are situated near the Kandy Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth).

History
Esala is believed to be a fusion of two separate yet interconnected “Peraheras” - The Esala and Dalada. Dating back to 3rd century BC, the procession was a ritual performed to request the Gods for rainfall. The Dalada Perahera is believed to have begun when the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India during the 4th century CE.

Insight to Kandy Esala Perahera
Esala Perahera is celebrated in each and every Buddhist temple, and each has its own representation. This is the time when elephants are seen cloaked in colourful attires and decorated with bright lights. Apart from the elephant procession, acrobats, jugglers, musicians, singers and dancers from different regions of the country perform to the sound of traditional drums in constant beat. The Perahera is also considered a ritualistic enactment to summon the rains.

Different processions during the festival
Kumbal Perahera (Kumbal Procession)
The first procession starts with Kumbal Perhara. The procession is shown to the infants as it is believed to drive away evil spells and ill-will. Although quite popular, the Kumbal Perahara remains an unfinished procession of a semi procession. The reason is that Nilames do not work in this procession.

Randoli Perahera (Randoli Procession)
The Randoli Perahera can be seen only with the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic and parade streets for whole five days. In the days of the Kings, the Chief Queen of the Kings paraded in this procession in Palanquins. Later the participation of the Queens was stopped as it was not proper to the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic. But, a palanquin is still taken in the procession as an honour to the Queen.

Maha Randoli Perahera (Grand Randoli Procession)
The Maha Randoli Perahara is the last and the grandest procession of the entire festival. The Tuskers come with garlands and decorated with ceremonial costumes.

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