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Esala Perahera Festival

Esala Perahera

Legend has it that when Buddha was cremated in the 5th century BC, one of his followers took a tooth from the pyre. The holy canine was later smuggled to Sri Lanka, in the hair of an Orissan princess disguised as a Brahmin priest. King Megavanna was so happy to have the religious relic on his island that he had it paraded through the city for his subjects to marvel at.

Today’s Esala Perahera is as colourful as the story of its origins. The time-honoured elephant parade takes place in Kandy, the Sri Lankan centre of Buddhism. For more than 400 years, the city’s Dalada Maligawa (Temple of the Tooth Relic) has housed the revered dentistry. A replica casket is used in the parades, but that doesn’t stop thousands of Buddhist pilgrims from breaking out their drums, whips and fire.