The prestigious Sri Dalada Perahera in Kandy is celebrated in honour of the sacred Tooth Relic of Gautama Buddha and the four guardian gods, Natha, Vishnu, Kataragama and goddess Pattini.
In keeping with the terms of the Kandyan convention of 1815, the custody of the Sacred Tooth Relic was handed over to the Buddhist clergy. In the absence of a king a lay custodian called “Diyawadana Nilame, was appointed to handle the routine matters relating to the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Pageant conducted to beseech the blessings of the guardian Gods
In the past the pageant was conducted in a bid to beseech the blessings of the guardian Gods for rains to come for the cultivation of paddy and other crops and to enrich the lands of the Kingdom. Later on the pageant was improved by the inclusion of the Sri Dalada Maligawa Esala Perahera (the pageant to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic) which is conducted to commemorate the first discourse - Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta expounded by the Enlightened One on Esala Poya Day.
The oldest, grandest and the noblest procession in Asia. The Sinhalese term for the pageant is Perahera meaning a parade of musicians, dancers singers, acrobats...
This is supposed to be the oldest, grandest and the noblest procession in Asia. The Sinhalese term for the pageant is “Perahera” meaning a parade of musicians, dancers singers, acrobats, torch bearers (illuminators), Sesath carriers, accompanied by a large number of caparisoned tuskers and elephants parading the streets in celebration of the religious event. In the past the number of tuskers and elephants participating in the Perahera had been increasing year by year but this year a decline in the number of tuskers is likely due to the shortage of elephants that provide majesty to this religious event.
On all five days of Kumbal Perahera and those of the Randoli perahera the processions begin from the Mahawahalkada where the Tusker-Jambo carrying the Relic Casket kneels down and pays respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic.
Then the procession sets off at the auspicious moment amidst the utterances of “Sadhu”- the expression of piety and devotion, The commencement of the procession is indeed an awe inspiring moment especially due to the high esteem with which casket of the Sacred Tooth Relic is held by the prelates of Asgiriya and Malwatte Viharayas and the well mannered behaviour of the Maligawa tusker.
Recently an improved dress has been designed to caparison the elephants to traverse streets. This costume consists of three parts viz. the body part, the forehead garland- “Netti Malaya” and the ear ornament- “Kan Joduwa” Large quantities of foam Rubber, unbleached cloth, velvet and coral etc. are required to make this dress. The body part is decorated with traditional artwork using mostly the Lotus flower. Netti Mala is made up of brass work called “Bokkala” each costing about Rs. 6,000/=. They are manufactured in areas such as Pilimatalawa, Gadaladeniya, Ambekke and Matale.