Kandy Esala Perahera

The month of (July) Esala - [according to Buddhist month system], during which period this annual pageant is usually hold, had been considered a month of celebrations and festivity, both among Indians and Sri Lankans. Even from the lifetime of the Buddha in the 6th century BC, the Esala festival was held to commemorate the Buddha’s Conception, his Renunciation and the First Sermon. Esala is also considered to be the beginning of the raining season (Vassana) when the monks commence their Retreat. Also, this month is considered to be the period when ritual performances to the protective divinities are held, (eg Pattini puja) as recorded in the text ‘Pattini-Halla’. Being considered a ‘chaste’ month, the period is held sacred for the availability of water, hence prosperity.

Kandy Perahara is the main Buddhist event in SriLanka, as a Buddhist country this festival is fully conducted by sri lankan government. "Dalada maligawa" is the main temple of all, so this festival is called as the heart beat of Sri Lankans which is most awaited through the year. thousands of devotees gather to see the "perahara" on this season and more than 50 elephants, +2000 artists  take part in this event,

 

Preparation

Most of the rituals are hidden and unseen, we were able to get some rare shots of dressing the elephant which carries the relic in perahara, and this time [2012] the elephant is called "Nadungamuwe Raja", and there is an amazing history about those elephants who carries the sacred relic and among those the most famous one is "Raja" who passed away few years ago and still makes people cry when they see him at its museum. , if you visit "Dalada Maligawa" dont miss Raja's museum next  to the temple at left side.

 

Esala Perahara

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Sinigama Esala Festival

Sinigama Devalaya (temple) is located on Galle - Colombo main road 3km before Hikkaduwa,the well known tourism paradise. This temple is devoted for god "Dewol" since 300 years, some folks says this temple is older than 1000 years but there are no proves.

There are two temples, the main Devalaya is on land and other is an island, only way to reach that is a boat. Thousands of pilgrims are coming to this temple daily to get blessings & the annual Festival will held on August every year.

 

Cultural Show

Before the first procession there is a cultural show, some dancing items are going to take part in this event and the dancers shows their talents on this day.

 

Processions

There are four processions, two day processions & two night processions. First procession is towards Thelwaththa ancient temple and second is towards Hikkaduwa town. Giant tuskers, facinating kandiyan and low country dancers makes Galle - Colombo main road look fabulous. Photos below are from those four processions.

 

Special thanks to Mr.Sampath Viraj & Mr.Nishantha who gave us the opportunity to cover the event.
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Traditional Wedding in Sri Lanka

Weddings vary according to religion, region, caste, ethnicity and language. The following traditions are of the Sinhalese ethnic group, predominately Buddhists, whose traditions also differ between north and southern regions.

Bride: Wears four silk saris (they can vary from the Indian to Kandyan Style) for the wedding celebrations. She also wears a nalalpata, a headband with a gold gem-studded forehead plate, traditionally worn by royal rulers. A mass of chains is worn around her neck. Padakkam (pendants) are an important part of the chains, each having a name – peti malaya, the agasthi malaya and the seri valatu. The earrings, known as dimithi, have the shape of an overturned cup with tiny pearls dangling from two ear studs. Some brides wear armlets to ward off bad luck.

Groom: Wears a traditional nilame (or mul anduma) suit over his sarong and shirt, and atamulu thoppiya (eight-cornered hat).

Celebrations: For the main marriage ceremony, the couple is escorted to the wedding location by drummers and dancers. The wedding takes place on a poruwa, a beautifully decorated wooden ceremonial platform.

The couple then makes offerings to the gods using seven betel leaf bundles, requesting protection for the seven generations that will follow from their union. The couple then exchanges rings, and the groom also gives the bride a gold necklace.

Four girls do a jayamangala gatha chant as the couple’s pinkies are tied together with gold thread. Holy water is poured over the fingers. Other traditions follow and at the end, as the couple step down from the poruwa platform, a coconut is broken as a symbolic gesture to drive away evil spirits.

These pictures were taken from Lasitha De Chikera and Thanuja Bandaranayka's wedding. Special thanks to Lasitha's sister Sujani De Chikera who gave some pictures to us...

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Wesak Festival

Wesak is considered as both a religious and cultural festival in Sri Lanka. It is celebrated on the day of the full moon in May. Wesak Day is one of the biggest days of the year in the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated by Buddhists all over the world.Buddhists commemorate the important events that took place in the life of Lord Buddha on this Wesak Full Moon Poya Day. First comes the birth of Siddhartha Gautama in Lumbini in Nepal which took place under the arbor of Sat trees where queen Mahamaya gave birth to him. The second event was Siddharta Gautam's supreme attainment as the Buddha, the Enlightened One. The third event was Lord Buddha's Parinibbana over 2500 years ago at Kusinagar.

Apart from Sri Lanka, many Asian countries including India, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Nepal celebrate Wesak. Many religious activities are organized during this period in Sri Lanka such as Sil campaigns, Bodhi Poojas, Dansalas(Freely giving foods, coffee, tea from people ), Wesak devotional songs (Bakthi Gee), pandols (thoran) and lanterns. Lot of Wesak pandols and Wesak Lanterns are making Colombo in Sri Lanka.

Other than the exclusive religious aspects of the festival, the Buddhists of Sri Lanka, decorate their houses and public places and arrange for various cultural events to bring happiness to everyone on that day

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