3 Traditional Festivals in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is known as the "Tears of the Indian Ocean". Its beauty lies not only in its landscape, but also in its unique and exotic culture. The article 3 traditional festivals in Sri Lanka introduces the important and traditional festivals in Sri Lanka. The most distinctive festivals in Sri Lanka are: Sinhala and Tamil New Year, Kandy Buddha Tooth Festival and Vesak Full Moon Poya.
The traditional calendar in Sri Lanka is different from the Gregorian calendar, so the Gregorian calendar dates for traditional Sri Lankan festivals are uncertain. If you want to experience the traditional festivals in Sri Lanka, you need to check the festival date in advance.
Temple of the Tooth Relic
1. Kandy Buddha Tooth Festival (Esala Perahera)
- Time: August
Lasting more than ten days, the Kandy Buddha Tooth Festival is the largest traditional religious parade festival in Sri Lanka and is one of the largest Buddhist festivals in the world. The Kandy Buddha Tooth Festival takes place in the month of Esala (from July to August in the Gregorian calendar) in Kandy, a Buddhist holy place in the central mountain region. The Kandy Buddha Tooth Festival is the high tourist season in Kandy, attracting Buddhists and thousands of tourists from all over the world.
Parade of the Buddha Tooth Festival
The tooth of the Buddha is a national treasure of Sri Lanka. The rulers of the past have attached great importance to the teeth of the Buddha, which has become the spiritual nourishment of the monks. It is said that in ancient times, anyone who could accept the teeth of the Buddha could rule Sri Lanka. This shows the holiness of the Buddha. The tooth of the Buddha is now preserved in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy. After every general election in Sri Lanka, the elected head of government must first go to Kandy to pay homage to the teeth and pray for the stability of the regime.
There are several great activities during the Buddha Tooth Festival, the most typical of which is the Esala Perahera Parade. Many folk songs and dances troupe at the parade. The most striking one is a Buddha tooth shrine on the back of a luxurious elephant. From the 7th day of the festival, the scope of the parade becomes larger and reaches a climax on the last day. The Buddha Tooth Festival is the best time to experience the cultural landscape of Sri Lanka and to take photos.
2. Sinhala and Tamil New Years
- Time: April 13-14
Sinhala New Year and Tamil New Year are the most important traditional festivals in Sri Lanka and are considered to be the beginning of spring. Soon after the rice harvest, it also means a bumper harvest, so this festival is more important in rural areas.
Sri Lankans pray in the temple
The traditional Sinhala and Tamil New Year has a history of thousands of years and has a strong agricultural culture. The New Year comes when the sun is right over Sri Lanka and the local agricultural harvest season is over. However, the Sinhalese and Tamils believe in Buddhism and Hinduism respectively, which is why they also add some elements of the ethnic religion during the New Year. The traditional New Year of the two major ethnic groups, Sinhala and Tamil, combines religion, culture, history and other factors. People gather together to share the festive and peaceful atmosphere in a unique way.
Sri Lankan New Year has a special custom. The first few hours when the New Year’s bell rings are called "bad time" or "good time". During this period, people must stop all work, put out the fire, and fasting. At this point, people should stop all activities, stay at home, or listen to the scriptures in the temple. Once the "difficult period" is over, the streets become loud and fireworks are lit. People can enjoy traditional entertainment and evening parties. Praying Buddha is the main activity of the traditional New Year in Sri Lanka. People hope that through worship and blessings, the New Year will be safe and fruitful.
The Sri Lankan New Year has a special custom. The first few hours before the New Year's bell rings are known as "Bad Time" or "Time for Good Deeds." During this time all work must be stopped, the fire extinguished and the food fasted. At this point people should stop all activity, stay home, or listen to the scriptures in the temple. As soon as the "bad times" were over, the street became loud and fireworks blew. People can enjoy traditional entertainment and evening parties. Worship of the Buddha is the main activity of the traditional New Year in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist country. People hope that through worship and blessings, the New Year will be safe and fruitful.
3. Vesak Full Moon Poya Day
- Time: full moon day in May
Vesak Day, commonly known as the Festival of Lights, is the largest traditional Buddhist festival in Sri Lanka. The Vesak Festival takes place on the full moon day in May in the Gregorian calendar. It is said that this day is the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of Buddha Sakyamuni. It is also the anniversary of the Buddha's visit to Sri Lanka and the ancestors of the Sinhalese who brought his entourage to Sri Lanka.
Lights from Vesak full moon Poya
At this festival, devout Buddhists make lanterns of various shapes and specifications, and hang them on buildings. When night falls, there are shining lights everywhere, symbolizing the ever-brightness of Buddha lamps. During this time, big cities also raised money to build huge archways that are adorned with different colored lights and alternated with different patterns.
The arches are painted with various decorative forms of some great Buddha statues and the expression is vivid and lifelike. Someone under the archway explains the content of the samples to the audience. Buddha's chants are also performed on the open-air stage. At festivals, charity and good deeds are considered an important event. There are many sheds on both sides of the street where passers-by can be provided with free food.