The Sacred Tooth Relic, which is housed at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic in the city of Kandy, is being considered and worshipped as the living Lord Buddha. For this very reason, there are daily, weekly and annual poojas and rituals. Dalada Perahera famously known as the Kandy Esala Perahera held in the month of Esala (July) annually is among them. It is considered as the epitome of country’s Buddhist celebrations and is blessed with divinity. According to Maha Parinibbana sutta of Deegha Chapter, among few other sacred relics, the four sacred tooth relics remained intact following Mahaparinirvana. Lord Buddha’s left canine tooth out of the four Tooth Relics which was blessed with Sri Saddhamma for 45 years was brought to Sri Lanka due to the continuous conflicts during the reign of King Mutaseewa in the kingdom of Kaalinga. Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha brought the Tooth Relic to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kithsirimewan, seeking protection for the Sacred Tooth Relic. This incident took place in 328 A.D.
Following the arrival of the Sacred Tooth Relic, it was first housed in the Isurumuniya Temple and was honoured and worshipped with Dalada Perahera by King Kithsirimewan. It was so splendid that it left the King Kithsirimewan and the country men with amazement and awe. They made it an annual event performed in Anuradhapura kingdom with the anticipation of timely rain and good harvest. The background for the current street parading Dalada Perahera was set on those circumstances. No matter how the king was crowned, if he did not obtain the guardianship of the Sacred Tooth Relic, which has the miraculous power of giving timely rain and good harvest, in the eyes of the country men he was not regarded as the true leader with sovereignty.
During the kingdoms of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Dambadeniya, Yapahuwa, Kurunegala, Gampola, Kotte, Seethawaka and Kandy annual Dalada Perahera was performed as a showcase of the guardianship of the Sacred Tooth Relic along with all rituals and Poojas.
Even though King Wimaladharmasooriya I was crowned, he was not considered as the true king among the country men since he did not have the guardianship of the Sacred Tooth Relic. Hence, plenteous attempts were done by him to bring the sacred tooth relic to the kingdom of Senkadagala (now Kandy). Later on, under the protection of Dewanagala Rathnalankara Thero, the Sacred Tooth Relic was secretly brought from Sabaragamuwa Delagamuwa Maha Viharaya to Kandy via Uva province and was first placed in the Gedige Viharaya in Asgiriya, Kandy.
According to the tales of history, a grandeur temple was built for the Sacred Tooth Relic in the premises of the Royal palace. As a result, the Temple of Tooth Relic in Kandy was established.
Sri Dalada Perahera, which continued to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic with numerous rituals and performances was held in the month of Esala (July) until the country was entirely colonized by the British in 1815 A.D. Afterwards, it was permitted by the British colonizers, who made the country a kingless state, to perform Sri Dalada Perahera and the traditions relevant to the Sacred Tooth Relic continuously, with the custody of a Diyawadana Nilame (Chief Custodian).
The tradition of Dalada Perahera, which was based on Buddhist respect and kindness, combined with rituals of Devala, prioritizing the ultimate humanity. The Kandy Esala Perahera Casket which is considered as living Lord Buddha which parades the streets is worshipped by the divinity, humanity and elephants. This is considered to be the oldest cultural event in the world and continues with its colourful,glamorous splendour making it an out of this world experience.