The traditional New Year celebrations in Sri Lanka is a time marked by families getting together and various customs being observed by the country’s Sinhala and Tamil communities.
A National Holiday
The traditional New Year or the Sinhala and Tamil New Year generally falls on 13th and 14th April each year. In the villages, it is also celebrated as a harvest festival and it is a national holiday as well. Look to book family or honeymoon hotels in Sri Lanka in advance during this time; places like Amaya Hunas Falls, Kandy give you a chance to experience some of the New Year festivities.
Rituals and Customs
The New Year period is marked with a series of auspicious times at which various customs are followed. These include boiling milk in a clay pot till it overflows, applying oil on the head, lighting an oil lamp and observing Buddhist or Hindu rituals.
An important and yummy part of this festival is the traditional food items that are made! Kiribath (milk rice) and pongal (sweetened rice) are favourites as are what are known as “sweetmeats”; kavum (oil cake), thalaguli (made with sesame seeds), kokis (a crunchy deep-fried snack) and laddu (flour-based sweet with ghee) to name a few.
New Year games are also part of the festive fun; popular games include the “Kana Mutti” (similar to hitting a piñata), “Banis Kama” (bun eating contest without use of hands) and “Kotta Pora” (involves trying to knock an opponent off a log using a hard pillow!).
Auburn Silver is a travel writer who has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world. Google+
Kandy is one of the Sri Lankan destinations that is very popular among both local and foreign visitors. The beauty of the city is due to one major reason for visitors to visit this city over and over again without getting bored. Known as the “Hill Capital” of Sri Lanka, this city is developed and modern but still preserves its ancient values. The cool climate will welcome all those who enter this ancient city of the kings. Kandy holds another record of being the last kingdom of the country. The lake located within the centre of the city, which is known as the “Nuwara Wewa” adds more beauty and tranquillity.
Standing majestically in front of this lake is the “Temple of the Tooth Relic” also known as the Dalada Maaligawa. This houses the sacred tooth of Lord Buddha since ancient times and is located within the royal palace complex. The Buddhists around the world visit this place to pay respect to the tooth of Lord Buddha. Even non-Buddhists make it a point to visit this temple and experience the peace and serenity that is spread in every inch and also to pay respect to the tooth relic. One of the major festivals that have been created based on this tooth relic of Lord Buddha is the Esala Perahara. This festival dates back centuries, when it first started in Anuradhapura when the tooth relic was bought to Sri Lanka. From that day onwards, this has been a major event that is being sponsored by the king and would be conducted on a high scale. If you are in Kandy during July or August, this would be something that you would not want to miss.
The parade that would circle around the city includes vibrant costumes that belong to different cultures and traditions of the Sri Lankans. The whip-crackers would lead the parade informing the people that the parade is on the way. Dancers would follow the whip-crackers and would be performing at their best. The practices for this perahera are done for months and months to bring it to perfection. Fire dances would be another interesting thing to watch. The skilled artists would juggle, spin and do many stunts with blazing fire wheels, which would make the visitors gasp in awe and delight. The stilt walkers would add more excitement to the event as well. There would be a wide number of elephants dressed in colourful and decorative clothes, walking slowly and in line with the perahera. It would be surprising to see these giant animals patiently cooperating the entire time. The key attraction of this festival would be the tooth relic that would be taken in a special gold casing called the “karanduwa.” A special tusker would be chosen to have the honour of taking this tooth of Lord Buddha. This takes place for around two weeks. The best day to watch this would be the final day.
Even if you are in Colombo during this period, there are many ways that you could easily go to Kandy within a few hours. Malkey Travel & Tours (Pvt) Ltd is a company that offers Sri Lanka car rental around the country. If required, guests would be able to use these vehicles for Airport Transfers Sri Lanka.
Angela Fernando is an impassioned travel writer who composes pieces under the pen name Sumaira Narayan. She loves writing about new and exciting places around the world and hopes to visit them all someday. Google+