The Most Important Cultural Festival – The Dalada Perahara
The most important Cultural Festival that is witnessed by both locals and foreigners is the Dalada Perahara or the Kandy Esala Perahara, which is conducted in Kandy and is also known as the Festival of the Tooth Relic. It is a festival that is attended by a massive number of people from all parts of Sri Lanka as the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha which is enshrined in the Dalada Maligawa is carried in procession along the streets of Kandy, upon an elephant who is well dressed up in beautiful sequined material.
The Perahara is planned over a year and celebrated in July and August each year. This historical procession is an annual event where it is held to pay homage to the Scared Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha which is enshrined in the Sri Dalada Maligawa. This is a beautiful procession and unique to Sri Lanka where many traditional local dances, such as fire dances, whip dances, Kandyan dances and a plethora of cultural dances of Sri Lanka and ancient Sri Lanka are performed. A main and unique feature is the elephants who are dressed in elegant beautiful tailored covers with glistening sequins and an array of other beautiful ornaments. The Sacred Tooth Relic is carried on a special elephant, who is no doubt aware of the task that he is entrusted with.
History reveals that this procession is said to be a fusion of two important processions the Easala and Dala. The Esala Perahara dates back to the 3rd century BC, and is said to be a ritual that was enacted to request the Gods for rainfall. The Dalada Perahara is said to have commenced once the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from Sri Lanka in the 4th century BC.
The organization of this perahara is arranged by the Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters which consist of the Buddhist Clergy.