Kandy is an ancient and renowned city, with more than one UNESCO Heritage site featured within the city. The greatest celebration of Kandy’s immense historical heritage is the Esala procession, referred to as the Esala Perahera. The parade is so popular and widely celebrated that people from all over the island will flock to Kandy in order to witness the procession, and almost any luxury hotel, Sri Lanka has to offer such as the Anantara Kalutara Resort is sure to have packages to allow their visitors to experience this incredible experience.
The procession features the full spectrum of traditional Sri Lankan dances, encompassing fire-dances, whip dancers, colourful Kandyan dancers among much more. One of the hallmarks of the procession are the extravagantly decorated elephants that march along with the dancers.
The parade is held in tribute to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, which is kept in the sacred Sri Dalada Maligawa, alternatively known as the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. The tooth is believed to be the left canine of Lord Buddha himself, which was recovered from his funeral pyre by one of his disciples.
The entire event consists of five different processions each bearing a particular significance. On the sixth night, the relic casket, which acts as a replacement to the sacred tooth relic, is placed on an elephant referred to as the ceremonial tusker. The procession concludes with a ceremony known as the Diya Kepeema. This is a water-cutting ceremony which held at the Mahaweli River located a short distance away from the city of Kandy. Important points in the parade are signalled by the firing of canons.
The Esala Perahera is widely regarded as an unforgettable experience and one of the most significant cultural celebrations taking place in Sri Lanka, so be sure to experience it should you get a chance.
Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.