Written by Nathasha De Alwis
13 Aug, 2019 | 11:31 am
COLOMBO (News 1st) – Festival time is about to begin in Kandy, the hill capital. The annual Esala pageant – commonly known as the Esala Perahera is set to begin with light, colours, music, and dance.
Esala Perahera, the festival of the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha is the grandest festival held in Sri Lanka. The Perahera which is also known as the world’s oldest, religious and cultural pageant takes place in the heart of the central hills.
This is the time known to see elephants cloaked in sheets of colourful garments and bright lights; acrobats, jugglers, and dancers from various regions of the country, performing intricate steps to the sound of numerous traditional drums in the constant beat; as well as fire-eaters, musicians, and singers.
Historical reference of this masterpiece
The Kandy Perahera reflects the glory of the days that are no more, the days of the pomp and splendour of the Kandyan monarchy when the King personally directed the arrangements for the great event.
The King took his stand at the octagon of the Dalada Maligawa also known as the Pattiruppuwa and presented himself to the view of his assembled subjects.
The Governors of Provinces satisfied the King as to the disposition of the several components of the long procession each in its due order of precedence.
The procession being duly formed and marshalled in the temple square, the King with all ceremony brought the relic casket (Karanduwa) containing the Tooth Relic which he placed upon the Maligawa tusker.
An additional sacredness of the Kandy Perahera is its association with the Danta Dhatu, the Tooth Relic.
During the monarchy, it was believed that the safety of the kingdom depended on the Tooth Relic, therefore the Perahera at the capital where the Tooth was enshrined, received royal patronage.
The Kandy Esala Perahera begins with the Kap Situveema also known as Kappa, in which a sanctified young Jackfruit tree (Artocarpus integrifolia) is cut and planted in the premises of each of the four Devales dedicated to the four guardian gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and the goddess Pattini. Traditionally it was meant to shower blessing on the King and the people.
Kumbal Perahera (Kumbal Procession)
The first procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic starts with the Kumbal Perahera. This is the first Kumbal Perhara shown to the infants to drive away evil spells and illwill.
It is a tradition that the procession parades the streets of Kandy for five days. But the Kumbal Perahara is popular and remains as an unfinished procession or a semi procession.
Randoli Perahera (Randoli Procession)
This could be seen only with the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic and parade the streets for a whole five days which is a tradition.
In the days of the Kings, the Chief Queen of the Kings paraded in this procession in Palanquins. As the participation of the Queens was not proper to the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic they were stopped but a palanquin is taken in the procession as an honour to the Queen. Today it is taken as the last item of the procession.
Maha Randoli Perahera (Grand Randoli Procession)
The Maha Randoli Perahara is the final procession. It is the grandest event of the festival. The tuskers come with garlands and decorated with ceremonial costumes. The Diyawadana Nilame adds a novel glamour to the grandest procession by wearing a newly stitched costume.
The lights that brighten the central hills don’t just brighten the streets, it also brightens the lives of the devotees who flock to the central hills just to grace this occasion, as this is not just a festival it is also a religious event.
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