Monday, August 11, 2014

Fires & Faces from the Kandy Esala Perahera Sri Lanka 2014

With over a 100 elephants, even more dancers, drummers, whip-crackers, fire-dancers and chieftains in traditional garb, the beautiful annual Kandy Esala Perahera is believed to be the oldest in the world. Some stunning moments, fires & faces from the final day at the World Heritage Site of Kandy 10 August 2014 (All images (c) Ayu in the Wild Safaris Sri Lanka)

The Sacred Tooth Relic was brought to Sri Lanka in 303 A.D - five centuries after the sapling of the Sacred Bo Tree - under which the Lord Buddha was enlightened, was brought to the island.  King Kithsirimewan built a beautiful palace to enshrine the Tooth relic and began the annual perahera (procession) in honour of it.

 The entire Perahera is lit by the fires of torch-carriers who line the streets

The magnificent tusks of the chief Elephant (Maaligawa Tusker) that carries the Golden Casket at the Kandy Esala Perahera, Sri Lanka

 The dancers and drummers fill the streets with colour, rhythm and grace
Dance and movements passed down from fathers to sons -several generations participate in the rituals of the procession - ensuring continuity of this magnificent pageant.

The climax -  The 'Maaligawa Tusker' (Chief Elephant) carrying the golden casket in the centre is traditionally flanked by two smaller Tuskers on either side.

No one rides on the lead Tusker as a mark of respect for the Relic . Two elephants accompany it on either side with men who ride the two elephants showering the casket with flowers. The families of these men have been traditionally carrying out these functions and no one else can perform them.

In the times of our Kings....

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. It then served the further purpose of a royal levee, at which were present the two Adigars, (Governors of Provinces) and all the other chiefs. The King took his stand at the Octagon of the Dalada Maligawa—termed the Pattiruppuwa, and presented himself to the view of his assembled subjects in the square below, who eagerly awaited a sight of his Royal Majesty. The procession being duly formed and marshalled in the temple square, the King with all ceremony brought the Karanduwa, or the relic casket containing the Tooth Relic which he placed within the ransivige on the howdah upon the Maligawa Tusker. 

The perahera was once banned under the British rule for about a decade and a severe drought befell the country. It is widely believed that the Sacred Tooth Relic has the power to bring rains to the island. After much persuasion, the British then allowed the Perahera to recommence and the country was blessed with rains.  

The Perahera climaxes with the dancing and drumming

 Past midnight - and another Esala Perahera ends....Dancers walk past the Temple of the Tooth Relic - beautifully lit in all its glory.

Ayu in the Wild Safaris Sri Lanka


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