In Sri Lanka, the ten-day festival of the historic Esala Maha Perehera began In Kandy last evening with a grand procession. The procession set off from the biggest Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka, Sri Dalada Maligawa at an auspicious time.
The Esala Perahera is one of the oldest and grandest of all Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka, featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, fire-breathers and lavishly decorated elephants.
This is held in Esala (July or August) which is the month that is believed to commemorate the first teaching given by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment. The purpose of the procession is to beseech the blessings of the Gods to obtain rain for the cultivation of crops and to enrich the lands of the kingdom.
This ritual is performed by carrying the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha through the streets and is considered as one of the most beautiful pageants in Asia.
It is celebrated to honour the sacred tooth relic and the four Gods Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and Goddess Pattini. Thousands of tourists from within the country and abroad visit Kandy to witness the festival.