Kandy Esala Perahara

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The sacred tooth relic, which is kept in the Kingdom of Kandy, is being worshipped as the living Lord Buddha. For this very reason, among daily, weekly and annual poojas and rituals, Dalada Perahera; held in the month of Esala (July), is considered as the epitome of country’s Buddhist celebrations and is blessed with divinity. According to Maha Parinibbana sutta of Deegha Chapter, among a few other sacred relics, four sacred tooth relics remained following Mahaparinirvana. Lord Buddha’s left canine tooth which was blessed with Sri Saddhamma for 45 years was brought to Sri Lanka due to the sheer eternal fortune. Because of the continuous conflicts during the reign of King Mutaseewain the kingdom of Kaalinga, seeking the protection for the sacred tooth relic, Princess Hemamala and Prince Dantha brought the tooth relic to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Kithsirimewan. This astonishing feast of incident took place in 328 A.D. Following the arrival of the sacred tooth relic, it was first placed in Isurumuniya Temple and was honored and worshipped with Dalada Perahera by King Kithsirimewan. It was so picturesque that it left the King Kithsirimewanand the country men with amazement and they made it an annual event performed in Anuradhapura kingdom with an anticipation of timely rain and good harvest. The background for the current street roaming 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 performing 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 WimaladharmasooriyaI 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 ofSenkadagala (now Kandy). Later on, under the protection of DewanagalaRathnalankaraThero, the Sacred Tooth Relic was secretly brought from Sabaragamuwa DelagamuwaMahaViharaya to Kandy via Uva province and was first placed in the GedigeViharaya in Kandy. According to the tales of history, a grandeur temple was built for the Sacred Tooth Relic which was brought to the premises of the king’s palace. As a result, the Temple of Tooth Relic in Kandy was established. Sri Dalada Perahera, which was flourished with king’s homage, numerous rituals and services, was performed 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 Dewala, prioritizing the ultimate humanity.The living Lord Buddha who is street roaming in the picturesque perahera is worshipped by the divinity, humanity and elephants making them devotees and the historical Kandy Perahera is the only Pereheraceremony in the world which is blessed to do so.

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