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Updated by Joanna James on Mar 16, 2024
Headline for The rights and rituals of the Esala Perahera
Joanna James Joanna James
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The rights and rituals of the Esala Perahera

The Esala Perahera is one of the most exotic and attractive events that are hosted in Kandy by the Sri Dalada Maligawa and there are many rituals that are involved in the process.


The Esala Perehera

There are four major ceremonies hosted annually by the Sri Dalada Maligawa besides the daily and monthly Ceremonies. Among these 4 ceremonies, the Esala Mangalyaya is known to be the most important event hosted in Kandy. The city comes alive during the month of Esala which generally falls during July-August according to the Sinhalese calendar.


The first few steps

The whole city comes alive as hotels in Kandy, restaurants, and storekeepers prepare to welcome the guests that will flood into the city during the event. Hotels such as Earl's Regent Kandy and other city hotels get filled to the brim with locals and tourists who come to witness this magnificent display. The city is illuminated by decorations and lights that bring the streets of Kandy alive even at night. A few days before the perahera begins a kappa, which is a sampling of a tree that sheds thick white milk, and is then erected in each of the four devala ( temples).


The Kumbal Perahera

On the fifth day of erecting the tree sampling, the Kumbal perahera starts which marks the opening of the Esala Perahera. The sacred tooth relic is taken around the streets of Kandy during the Kumbal Perahera but they do not do cover a long area. The 4 devala do not take part in the Kumbal perahera. This Kumbal perahera takes place on for 5 consecutive nights. Alongside the magnificent elephant that carries the casket of the tooth relic who is adorned with a special outfit are several other different dancers and performers who take part in the ceremony.


The Randoli Perehara

The Randoli perahera is considered to be the most colourful days and from those the last Randoli perahera which falls on the Esala full moon poya day is the most sought after the ceremony. On this day the Diyawadana Nilame who is the chief of the Sri Dalada Maligawa clad in the traditional ceremonious Kandyan attire will enter the inner chamber to receive the Perahera casket. When the Nilame steps out with the casket everyone around will start chanting Sadu Sadu Sadu. A yellow and red pawada which is a ceremonial floor spread is laid in front of him and as he descends white jasmine flowers are scattered on him as he makes his way to where the tusker awaits him. After the Maligawa perahera the 4 dewala Natha, Vishnu, Katharagam and Pattini in that respective order will take their places in the perahera.


The Day Perahera

The Dawal perahera which is held during day time is the very last event of the ceremony and it is held following the day of the full moon Poya day. After the 'Diyakapana Uthsawaya' which is a ceremonies event that marks the end of the perahera the Diyawadana Nilame and the 4 Basnayaka Nilame are supposed to report to his Excellency, the president of Sri Lanka that the annual ceremony has come to an end.