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Pomp and Pageantry

Regarded as the centrepeice of the island's cultural festivals, the Kandy Esala Perahera is a divine celebration - unbridled with pomp, pageantry and extravagance. Attracting thousands of travellers - both local and international, this remarkable festivity extends to a duration of 10 days, held during July/August. Infused with cultural traits of Buddhism and Hinduism, it is no wonder that Sri Lankan Elephants play a significant role during the procession, adding a sense of grandeur to the pageant.

To the first time visitor to Kandy, there is nothing more resplendent than the annual pageant. Envision a train of elephants parading down the streets, following thousands of drummers - all under a blanket of starry skies with fire dancers illuminating the night. Depicting a chapter from the island's royal history, the Kandy Perahera reflects the glory days of the Kandyan monarchy, a time when the King personally directed the arrangements for the great event.

Experience this vivid portrayal of a bygone era - a combination of traditional dance, gaiety and culture. Witness dazzling, embellished attire - all in vibrant, rich hues. Along with dancers are a chain of acrobats, musicians, whip crackers, fire jugglers, torch bearers and thousands of barefoot pilgrims. Even though the streets are all illumined grandly, the traditions of carrying fire lanterns still continue. The ear piercing sound of a whip cracker lets all the eager spectators know the pageant is on the way, while fire spinners take your breath away by performing spine chilling stunts.

The highlight of the pageant will be the Sacred Tooth Relic, which is carried in a golden casket through the streets of Kandy. Taken from the Dalada Maligawa Temple (Temple of the Tooth Relic), the Sacred Tooth is laid on top of a tusker, clad in the most dazzling costume. The procession has numerous rites and rituals performed in and out of the premises from the first day to the final day, so as to bestow blessings for everyone in the country.