If you're near Sri Lanka and have a few days to fill, don't miss the annual mid-summer Kandy Perahera Fest, reviewed here by Family Travel Forum's travel experts.
Sri Lanka, the small and beautiful tropical isle off southern India which introduced the world to Ceylon tea, has long suffered from political and religious strife between its Hindu Tamil and Buddhist Sinhalese residents. Despite the unrest, the traditional peraheras or processions for which the island became celebrated endure.
Among the many religious festivals, the Kandy Esala Perahera is perhaps the grandest, as it occurs at the Temple of the Tooth, a stunning temple (Sri Dalawada Maligawa in Sinhalese) and one of the holiest of shrines in all Buddhism, said to contain relics of the Buddha’s tooth. A 10-day pageant is held each July/August, in which the golden casket which enshrines the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha is taken on the back of an elephant along the streets of Kandy.
This unique procession is accompanied by elegant dancers, swirling torch lights, decorated elephants and in the past, thousands of astounded tourists. Kandy is a hill village with a temperate climate in the center of the beautiful isle of Sri Lanka, and all year round has many cultural attractions, street performances and ornately decorated temples to interest families.
In order to publicize these festivals, the Ministry of Tourism & Civil Aviation and Ceylon Tourist Board are promoting packaged tours to the region during the Kandy Esala Perahera. The Perahera festivities typically begin in mid-August and extend until the end of the month, falling within the popular summer travel season.
If the thought of being able to view this incredible pageantry live inspires a future visit, contact the nearest embassy, the Sri Lanka Tourism Board (+94 112 437059/60) for more information.
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