Ranked as the oldest spiritual event in Sri Lanka’s Buddhist calendar, the Kandy Perahera is an annual procession with a rich history and legacy that dates back centuries.
The Sacred Tooth Relic
Although most tourists head to Sri Lanka to witness the Kandy Perahera every July/August, most are unaware of the sacred tooth relic and its connection to this iconic procession. Once a year, the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha stored at the Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth) is encased in a jewelled container and travels the length of Kandy on the back of a tusker. While the actual tooth relic remains protected inside the temple, it is a replica that takes part in the festivities associated with the Kandy Perahera, symbolising the prized possession of the Buddhist faith in Sri Lanka.
A Grand Affair
No aspect of the Kandy Perahera can be deemed small-scale, and it is considered one of the largest and longest processions in the world. Although the tooth relic is the focal point of the parade, it is easy to lose sight of this holy object in a procession that includes fire breathers, whip crackers and countless drummers and dancers. Acrobats, swordsmen and performance artists of every imaginable variety take part in the procession.
The Hindu Shrines
The Temple of the Tooth is not the only Kandyan religious institution that is involved in the parade as the participation of the Vishnu, Katharagama, Natha and Pattini Hindu Temples in Kandy have been part of the celebrations for decades.
Witnessing the Perahera
Tourists and pilgrims often travel to Kandy, Sri Lanka, to witness the procession and navigate the streets of the city as documented by Kandy Escapes and other travel blogs. Locals, however, catch the parade live on national TV.