Old Ceylon Kandy Perahera – The Kandy Perahera originates with the arrival of Prince Dantha and Princess Hemamala, the son-in-law and daughter of King Guhasiva of Kalinga in India to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna (305-331 AD). Following the decree of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna that the Relic should be taken round the city of Anuradhapura once a year, the Esala Perahera had been followed by the succession of kings, though with interruptions caused by foreign invasions.

One of the biggest Buddhist celebrations of the year, the annual Kandy Perahera (Esala Perahera) is a religious ceremony during which devotees pray for sufficient rains to bless the country and crop cultivation. One of Buddhism’s most sacred relics, the Sacred Tooth is taken from the Temple of the Tooth and paraded through the streets as part of the Kandy Perahera. Following this, more festive events take centre stage and visitors can expect to see a lively cast of dancers, jugglers and fire-breathers milling amongst the crowds.

Kandy Perahera Commences on Esala Full Moon or “Poya” Day on the month of July and concludes on Nikini Full Moon Poya Day in the month of August Held in July or August according to the dates of the full moon, Esala Perahera has become a symbol of Sri Lanka . It is very grand with months of elaborate preparation, elegant costumes, well choreographed demonstrations of talent from various artistes and of course the sage procession of well trained elephants. There are fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandyan dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants are usually adorned with lavish garments and beautiful lights. The Kandy Perahera festival ends with a traditional ‘diya-kepeema’ ritual.

The significance of this great event is to invoke blessings of the deities to ensure the farmers receive rain to cultivate their crops. This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha through the city streets which is done with great ceremony.

The tooth relic was brought to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the year 310 AD and the first Esala Perahera (Kandy Perahera) was performed in Anuradhapura, the first capital where the sacred relic was housed.