Kandy Esala Perahera 2012
Varying dates in July / August, 23rd July to 1st August 2012.
As the August moon waxes in the Buddhist month of Esala, the most extravagant of festivals takes over the city of Kandy in Sri Lanka. The procession includes fire-jugglers, acrobats, fabulously decorated elephants, traditional dancers, musicians, whip crackers, torch bearers and thousands of barefoot pilgrims and swordsmen to name but a few.
Each night as dusk settles the Perahera (parade) takes to the streets growing ever larger and more vibrant until the final night when the parade is at its most magnificent.
The tradition dates back to about 300 AD and is a blend of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs dedicated to the deity Skanda as well as Buddha. It is intended to invoke the blessings of the gods for rain, fertility, successful crops and good health. Elephants feature heavily as they are symbols of abundance and fertility. They are the "clouds who walk the Earth", and are therefore deemed instrumental in attracting the vital rains for a good harvest.
The largest elephant carries the most revered of treasures – a golden casket said to hold a tooth of Buddha. The story goes that Buddha's tooth was brought to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century AD, hidden in the tresses of a princess. Pilgrims flock to visit the golden temple, Sri Dalada Maligawa every day of the year to see this venerated treasure.