The Esala Perahera (Festival of the August Full Moon) in Sri Lanka’s last Royal citadel of Kandy is something not to miss in August, says our Sri Lanka correspondent Lakshman Ratnapala.
According to ancient Royal customs, the Diya-wadana Nilame (the Custodian of the Dalada Maligawa — the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic), Nilanga Dela Bandara, along with the Basnayake Nilames (Chiefs of the surrounding Temples), officially presented the ‘Sannasa’ (the traditional proclamation) announcing the successful conclusion of the Perahera, to the Head of State, President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Presidential Mansion in Kandy today.
The Perahera paraded the streets of Kandy for 10 nights under the August Full Moon. It featured the majestic Temple elephant carrying the golden casket of Buddha Relics in a silver howdah on its back through the streets of medieval Kandy, accompanied by a hundred gorgeously caparisoned companion elephants followed by hundreds of dancers, acrobats and fire twirlers stepping to the throbbing beat of hundreds of traditional drummers, under an unusually big Full Moon. Kandyan Chieftains in traditional regalia joined the procession, lending the event an aura of medieval royal pageantry. The city streets were filled with a million devotees whose cries of ‘Sadu Sadu’ rent the air, as the relic casket passed by. The drumming and the pilgrims’ cries reverberated on the hills encircling the city of Kandy.