The Kandy Esala Perahera also known as the Sri Dalada Perahera has become Sri Lanka’s most popular festival. It’s an astounding festival celebrated by Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It’s a must-see if you’re planning on traveling to Sri Lanka in July and/or August. It’s a luxury to witness such an event and it’s definitely something that deserves a spot on your travel bucket list! Traditionally, the festival began as a celebration of the Gods but was later incorporated with the sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha that was brought into the country once upon a time.
The Perahera or parade is held annually in Kandy, the Hill Capital of Sri Lanka. It is called the ‘Esala Perahera’ because ‘Esala’ is the Sinhalese word for July. The lovely colors and lights displayed throughout this procession is a stunning sight that has attracted tourists and religious devotees from around Sri Lanka and the rest of the world. It was originally started around the 3rd Century BC to honour the Hindu Deities Natha, Vishnu, Katharagama and Pattini and appeal to the Gods for rain. In 1775, during the reign of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe, the Sacred Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha was added to the procession and the Perahera became what we see today.
The order of the 15 day festival
It all starts with the ‘Kapsituvima’ ceremony or the planting of the ‘Kapa’. This is then followed by three days of the internal Devale Peraheras, 5 days of the Kumbal Perahera, 5 days of the Randoli Perahera and finally, the ‘Diya Kepeema’, the water cutting ceremony. The exact dates of the Perahera differ each year based on the full moon Poya days and auspicious times.
What it’s like
There is a buzz in the air in Kandy during this time. Unimaginable crowds of devotees and onlookers who travel from nearby cities as well far away countries flock to Kandy City from as early as 2PM and pick out the best spots on the pavement to view this magnificent parade of bright lights. We have never seen a more patient crowd!
Which type of the Kandy Esala Perahera should you go for?
In our opinion, your first preference should be to go for one of the Randoli Peraheras, because that is the best. Failing which, you should aim to see the Kumbal Perahera.
What time does the Kandy Esala Perahera start?
There is no exact time that the Perahera starts as it differs each day based on the auspicious times. It’s usually around 6.30/7 PM in the evening. You need to get to your seat before 5.00 PM though because the roads close in preparation.
What time does the Kandy Esala Perahera end?
Once again, there is no set ending time as it differs each day. The Kumbal Perahera usually ends at around 9/9.30 PM and the Randoli is much longer, so it ends at around 11.30 PM or midnight.
When should I book rooms and tickets for the Kandy Esala Perahera?
The earlier the better as most places are fully booked months before! We would recommend to plan it around January that year is a good time to start making your travel plans for the Perahera Season.
How can I book rooms and tickets for the Kandy Esala Perahera?
Get in touch with us and we’ll custom design a tailor made holiday around the Kandy Esala Perahera for you, inclusive of hotels, transport and tickets to a viewing gallery for you.
See whip-crackers, fireball acrobatics, drumming, traditional music, dancing and a procession of the famous Tooth Relic on the back of an elephant.