The Kandy Esala Procession
What is Kandy Esala perahera?
The Kandy Dalada Perahera is a festival that blends religion, art, and political power. First, it reveals the immense reverence and devotion of Sri Lankan Buddhists to the Buddha, the Tooth Relic, and the Gods and Goddesses.
Second, it showcases the artistic talents of traditional artists sublimely. It showcases the dances, songs, and verses passed down from generation to generation as a school in the upcountry for a long time. In the days of the King, artists were given land for this purpose without paying rent.
Third, it demonstrates to the people the political glory of the King. The District Officers and Nilames who govern the various divisions of the King’s Kingdom now come to Kandy in procession and show their royal allegiance. The flags of the respective provinces are displayed here.
Fourth, it mimics rain. The ancients thought that in order to get rain, one had to imitate rain. Lightning strikes, lightning strikes, and rain clouds can be seen in the procession before the rains. The procession will end with a water-cutting ceremony as it rains.
All the activities of the Dalada Perahera are carried out according to the auspicious times arranged by the astrologers who are assigned to make the auspicious times in the temple. The activating choirs inform the Vidanes of the ten villages of the date and time of the procession and make arrangements.
How is the Kandy Esala Perahera celebrated?
The first ritual of the Perahera is the cup planting in the four great temples. This ritual is performed in front of the four great temples to obtain the blessings of God for the success of the procession. After clearing the land around the selected tree and offering it to the tree, a white-clad Vishnu Devalaya cut the tree down to shower milk to symbolize prosperity. It is then divided into four parts to be distributed to the four great temples. These parts are planted in the four temple premises. The Dalada Perahera will be held for ten days. The first five days of the procession are called ‘Kumbal Perahera.’
What is Kumbal perahera?
The Kumbala Perahera begins first. The task force cleans the murayudhas, shields, sesaths, silver, udakki, panthers, silver handicrafts, etc., in the palace, adds them to the procession, and makes the Kumbala Perahera take to the streets. Vidaners, drummers, and dancers from ten villages and elephants will participate in the procession. During the Kumbala Perahera, the Siv Maha Devalaya Perahera also joins the Maligawa Perahera and takes to the streets.
In the past, it was customary for a potter to carry new pottery and walk in front of the procession, hence the name Kumbala Perahera. But today, there is no such ritual, and the Kumbala Perahera is less beautiful than the Randoli Perahera. Therefore, the robes of the Nilames who travel here are white, and the torches and lights are dim. Also, like other dancers, only a limited number of elephants participate.
What is Randoli perahera?
The Randoli Perahera begins after the Kumbala Perahera. This is held in a very elegant and elaborate manner. It is called the Randoli Perahera because the golden sword, the golden jug, and other jewels dedicated to the deity are placed in the Dola.
Why Do Elephants Have An Important Role In The Kandy Perahera?
As the procession mimics the rain, the first to arrive in the kasakara symbolizes thunder’s sound. Dark-skinned elephants look like rain clouds. After the sound of lightning and lightning, rain clouds follow. Dark clouds slowly spread across the sky. The elephants moving slowly in the procession are like rain clouds. The more rain clouds, the more rain. The more elephants, the greater the grandeur of the procession.
Of these elephants, the majestic elephant is considered to be the one carrying the Tooth Relic. Even though he is a beast, the elephant in the palace walks proudly under the canopy over the white paws as if he understood his responsibility. In addition to the elephant in the palace, four other elephants carry coffins with jewels in the procession. They belong to the four temples. Two other elephants accompany an elephant carrying a box. Those on the elephants are blowing on the trunk.
Some of the other elephants are escorted by Nilamelas in charge of special activities related to the procession. The procession’s beginning is ‘Peramune Ralai’ with a blank book in his hand. It is called the ‘Secretary’s bundle.’ It describes the duties of the Temple of the Tooth and how the procession should be conducted.
The second is the elephant carrying the ‘Gaja Nayaka Nilame.’ ‘Gaja’ is another name for an elephant. This official in charge of the royal palace elephants is marching in a procession with a machete in his hand. Elephants are handled with the help of a hoe. Elephants are adorned with beautiful costumes. There are also names for tamed elephants.
What Is A Water Cutting Ceremony?
The Randoli Perahera will be held for five days. The last night of the Kandy Perahera is the most beautiful night of the Kandy Esala Perahera. The coffin will be kept at the Gedige Vihara in the cremation courtyard of the Asgiriya Vihara until dawn the next day. The next day at around 3 in the morning, the cotton masters of the four devalayas will leave in a procession towards the Getambe port near Peradeniya. When dawn breaks, they come to the mouth of the Getambe and take a water-filled gold jug and gold swords from the previous year to the middle of the river in a raft covered with a white veil.
They hide under the pretext and refill the jugs while emptying them. It is customary to cut the water with a golden sword when so filed. Hence this custom is called ‘water cutting.’ Why is it called ‘water cutting’ to fill water? The cut is a solid, not a liquid. The ancients thought that rain did not stop because the water that had accumulated in the sky was as thick as a single body of water. If so, the only way to keep the rain from falling is to cut the trunk. But no one can go to the sky to cut this body of water.
All we can do is imitate the water cut where we can go. Going down to the Mahaweli River and cutting water with a golden sword imitates cutting a body of water to get rain. Buddhists strongly believe that it will certainly rain at the time of the flood.
These showers are just the beginning of a torrential downpour. In 1826, when the British government stopped the Dalada Perahera, it did not rain for three years. The fields were deserted. Udaratio Edward Barnes complained to the governor that there was no rain because there was no procession. The governor reluctantly allowed the procession. The rains that fell on the day of the flood ended with a great flood.
The Buddhists called it ‘Dalada Watura.’ There is a folk poem called ‘Dalada Watura’ written at that time in the State Archives. A ‘Day Perahera’ will be formed after the Dalada Perahera joins the Devala Perahera carrying gold jugs filled with water. The Esala Perahera in Kandy concludes as soon as the processions pay homage to the temples and shrines. The rainy season begins as soon as the procession ends. The ‘Vaasana season’ of the Buddhist monks begins with the rain that falls on the day of the water cut. The monks stay in the temples for three months and wear the veil.
What is Valiyak Mangalle?
The rituals of the Dalada Perahera do not end there. After the noon procession pays homage to the Temple of the Tooth, the Valiyak festival is held for seven days. The main purpose of this ritual is to offer alms to the gods after the end of the procession. Diyawadana Nilame, who presided over the Dalada Perahera, the Pannaramukha Nilames, all the officials in the inner and outer sets, the dancers, the elephants, and all those who marched in the procession, the people who supported the procession in any way, participated in the procession. If there is any kind of vasdos or evil due to being, this pacification is also expected to remove all of them.
Held on the fourth floor of the Maha Vishnu Devalaya, this ritual is also known as Valiyak Thothanjara, Hadda Valiyakuma, Valiyakuma, Valiyakun Natyam etc. This is only held once a year, and for any other reason, the Valiyak Mangalle is not held anywhere.
How to End Kandy Esala Perahera?
The Esala Maha Perahera season also comes to an end with the end of the Valiyak Mangalle. It was the custom to report it to the King as soon as the noon procession was over. But since there is no king today, it is now being reported to the country’s political leader, the President. The President will inevitably visit the Royal Palace in Kandy for this purpose. The Diyawadana Nilame and the Basnayakes of the Devalayas informed the President that the procession was well conducted.