You are here

History of the Kandy Perahera

Old Ceylon Kandy PeraheraIt is believed the Kandy Perahera has its origin with the arrival of Prince Danta and  Princess Hemamala, the son-in-law and daughter of King Guhasiva of Kalinga, India to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna (305-331 AD). Following the decree of King Kirthisiri Meghawanna that the Relic be taken round the city of Anuradhapura once a year, the Esala Perehera pageant had been followed by the succession of kings, though with interruptions caused by the foreign invasions. The most revealing narration on the Esala Perehera is found in the book written by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien who visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century A.D. The intermittent invasions by the Dravidian kingdoms in the Esala Perehera is found in the book written by the Chinese pilgrim Fa Hien who visited Sri Lanka in the 5th century A.D. The intermittent invasions by the Dravidian kingdoms in the southern Sri Lanka was to result in the shifting of the seat of the kingdom from Anuradhapura to Polonnaruwa, then to Dambadeniya and other cities. In each retreat, a new temple of tooth was built to enshrine Sacred Tooth Relic. Finally, since the shift of the capital to Kandy, the Sacred Tooth Relic has been undisturbed. Today the Temple of the Tooth at Kandy houses the Sacred Tooth Relic of Buddha and naturally it has been there that the annual Kandy Esala Perehera Pageant is held in every year.

Kandy Esala Perahera Viewing Galleries

Kandy Esala Perahera Pageant Procession is believed to be a fusion of two separate but interconnected Perahera's (Processions) - The Esala and Dalada. It is very grand with elegant costumes. Happening in July or August in Kandy, it has become a unique symbol of Sri Lanka. The Esala Perahera which is thought to date back to the 3rd century BC, was a ritual enacted to request the gods for rainfall. The Dalada Perahera is believed to have begun when the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India during the 4th Century AD. The Tooth Relic was take in procession to Sri Lanka by Princess Hemamala & Prince Dantha. It is a Buddhist festival consisting of dances and nicely decorated Elephants. There are fire-dances, whip-dances, Kandian dances and various other cultural dances. The elephants are usually adorned with lavish garments.