First Perahara of the year
Peraharas’ are part and parcel of Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. The largest and most important Perahera is considered to be the one that takes place in July in each year in the City of Kandy where the Temple of the Tooth Relic, more commonly known as the Maligawa is situated.
The event is significant to the country’s Buddhists as it gives them the opportunity to pay homage to Lord Buddha’s tooth relic. During the perahara, the tooth relic is placed in a casket which is carried on the back of an Elephant, always a tusker, along the streets of the city.
The year of Peraharas’ begin with the Navam Perahera of the Hunupitiya Gangaramaya temple in Colombo. The two-day event is held at the end of February and attracts a large number of spectators.
Here sacred relics are also placed in a golden casket and a chosen tusker, draped in a decorated tapestry, parades the streets by the Beira Lake accompanied by dancers and drummers. Sri Lankan traditional dances from both the Pahatharata (low country) and Udarata (Kandyan) can be seen at the Perahara.
The origins of the Gangarama Perahera dates back to 1979 when it was held to venerate the Triple Gem (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha). Some believe that the purpose of the pageant is held to celebrate the first sermon of the Lord Buddha.