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Nawam Maha Perahera - An Ode to Sariputta

Nawam Maha Perahera is one of Sri Lanka’s most colourful and prestigious Buddhist cultural pageants; celebrated once in a year. Thousands of people from all over the world come to Colombo to witness this event on the full moon day of February mostly fall on the 19th of February. On this day, Colombo sees 100 decorated elephants on the streets. They leave from Gangaramaya Temple at Hunupitiya. This parade is attended by more than 1000 performers and school children who carry colourful flags. Procession is accompanied by percussion bands, stilt-walkers, conch shell blowers, flutists and drummers.

The Legend Behind this Peagent
Navam Perahera is held to commemorate the day Arahats Sariputta and Moggallana became disciples of Lord Buddha. The “Gangaramaya Raja Maha Viharaya” organizes the only Buddhist Perahera event on the streets of Colombo. Gangaramaya has the main features of a Vihara (temple), the Cetiya (Pagoda) the Bodhi tree, the Vihara Mandiraya, the Seema malaka (assembly hall for monks) and Relic Chamber.

Parade of Navam Perahera
Whip Crackers: Men begin the parade by cracking whips to clear the traffic of the street for the procession to pass. This process is also an invitation to everyone for watching the parade. Young and old participants then follow while carrying trays of flowers.

Elephants: Elephants are adorned in colourful clothes alongwith jewellery. Costumes the elephants are in three parts; Kan Joduwa (ear ornament), Netti Malaand (forehand garland) and the body ornament. The Majestic Tusker that carries the sacred relics is adorned in the most elaborate way.
Hewisi Drummers: Regarded as the most important in the whole procession; Hewisi Drummers play Sri Lankan Drums. For this special occasion, “Daula”, “Thammettama” and trumpet “Horanewa” are used.

Dancers: There are three types of Dancers in the Procession. Vannam, Ves Natuma and Pantheru dancers. They are all experts in these forms of dance; they wear elaborate head dress and play a musical instrument called Pantheru.
Borukakul Karayo: These performers are an expert in walking on stilts in between and yet above the crowds. Over the two long pieces of wood and leer and sneer, they manage to amuse the spectators throughout the parade.

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