It is really exciting that the students are going to be here for Kandy Esala Perahera - the festival is one of the most happening and breathtaking events in Sri Lanka and takes place in Kandy in between July and August. People travel from all over the world to see the elegant costumes, dances and decorated elephants. It is very busy, but with my help our students are going to be able to get the best viewing point!
I have personally experienced the festival for more than 10 years... I try never to to miss it! It’s a very grand festival and a unique symbol of Sri Lanka. People pray for good rains to cultivate crops and one of Buddhism's most sacred relics - the Sacred Tooth - is taken from the temple where it is kept and paraded through the streets. The best time to watch the festival is the last part as you can witness all the performances in the festival. There are fire dances, whip dances, Kandian dances and many other cultural events happening. It lasts for about 2 -3 hours, but you basically have to be there at least an hour early in order to get a good viewing point - the streets will be all packed with spectators.
The parade starts with the noise of the whip crackers... that is the first thing you will hear before you experience anything because they lead the festival. Following them are flag bearers and then the richly decorated elephants. Lots of elephants take part in this festival - over a hundred - all with custodians and other officials dressed in Sinhalese chief's clothes riding them. It is such an amazing thing to see as they go past. And to add onto that, there will be Kandyan dancers and drummers adding more glamour to the streets! My personal favorites are the fire dancers - with their magnificent talent and intense performances with fire you cannot look away. The acrobats also give breathtaking performances.
I am really excited about the festival in 2010 and can't wait to show the students all the glamour and excitement. This was just a little peek into what it is like, but you need to experience it with your own eyes to really see what it is like. It will definitely be a highlight in their trip to Sri Lanka!
Images on this page are courtesy of Flickr user Wildlife Cosmos.