Esala Perahera

Esala Perahera, or like it is sometimes called Festival of the Tooth, is one of the biggest festivals in Sri Lanka. It is organized in the town of Kandy in July or August. “Esala” is the name of lunar month occurring in July/August. In 2014 the festival is held from the 1st to 11th of August. Word “perahera” means a parade.

Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka
Esala Perahera festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka

The main attraction of this festival is a huge parade. It includes some 5,000 dancers, drummers, whip crackers, fire jugglers and many other participants. They are all wearing traditional clothes. More than 100 decorated elephants also participate in the parade. The parade starts with a cannon firing at about 8.30 pm. The starting point is the famous Temple of the Tooth. The festival ends some three hours later at the another entrance to the temple.

Elephants participating in the parade
Elephants participating in the parade

The Esala Perahera has been organized since the 18th century. Still there are experts who claim that the whole ritual is even older. They say that it started in the 4th century. This festival is a religious one. There are two basic opinion about the purpose of its organizing. Some say that the festival is organized to honour the Buddha's tooth which is kept in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha (most people just say the Temple of the Tooth). Others believe that the festival is honouring Buddhism, but also represents people's wish to get gods' blessings for rain, successful crops, good health and fertility.