Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic
Sri Lanka is a country that has a proud and great history. When peeping into that history can understand the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic or Dalada Maligawa in the city of Kandy is the most powerful religion and political center of Sri Lanka.
It is located in the royal palace complex of the former Kingdom of Kandy, which houses the relic of the tooth of the Buddha. The nature of the various aspects of the past societies such as political, religious, cultural, artistic, etc. is reflected in the historical & cultural background of the Temple of Sacred Tooth Relic.
So Kandy Perahara is also called the Festival of the Tooth. The Esala Perahara was started by king Kithsirimewan during the 301-328 time periods. Firstly, it was held as a separate ceremony called “Dalada Perehara”.
However, in the 18th-century king, Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe changed “Dalada Perehara” into “Senkadha Perehara Ceremony” which included several Gods such as Vishnu, Kataragama, Natha, and Paththini. Since then that has been organized by the Dalada Maligawa and the other four Dewalas.
This historical procession is held annually to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha and also for requesting to end the drought and get rainfall from the gods.
The World’s Prestigious Procession
For Sri Lankans, this procession is the most important ceremony. Normally, Kandy Esala Perahara is held in August at Kandy. During that time period, Kandy is busy with local and foreign tourists. In this procession, the main procession is “Dalada Perehara” and it is so elegant.
Apart from Dalada Perehara there are “Natha Dewala Perehara”, “Kataragama Dewala Perehara”, “Vishnu Dewala Perehara”, “Paththini Dewala Perahara”. Every activity and thing in the procession is done at an auspicious time.
Apart from the main procession, there are several processions called “Athule Perehara”, “Kumbal Perehara”, “Randoli Perahara”, and “Day Perehara”. This procession ceremony starts with the traditional “Kap Situweeme Ritual” and ends with the traditional “Diya Kapeeme Ritual” or “Water Cutting Ceremony” at Mahaweli River.
After the Water Cutting Ceremony devotees dive into the river and bathe because they believe that water has the power to cure all diseases.
Culture & Politics Behind Esala Perehara
Kandy Esala Perehara is a combination of religion, art, and politics. All the members who participate in to Perehara decorate themselves with elegant costumes.
Most eye-catching items can be seen in the Esala Perehara. The elephants with lavish garments dancing according to drum sounds are eye-catching. The elephant is named “Nedumgamuwe Raja” and brings the casket presently.
Esala Perehara consists of authentic dances just like “Fire Dance”, “Whip Dance”, “Kandyan Dance”, “Sabaragamuwa Dance”, “Pahatharata Dance” etc.
Among those dances, Cane Dance stretching over the length of the cane, one of the team’s member is changing and taking turns are appealing and so creative.
Whip Dance leads the procession and its aim is to get space for the procession and to indicate procession is on the way. Also, the Fire dance gets all the visitors’ attraction, because even little children hold the fire and dance with them.
This procession imitates the “Rain”. Hewisi and Drums sounds indicate the “Thundering of the Sky”. Elephants indicate “Clouds” and Fire indicates “Lightning”.
Finally, Water Cutting Ceremony indicates the Rain Drops. These are the authentic symbols of Sri Lanka. Nevertheless, Kandy Perehara is a good opportunity to learn about Sri Lanka.