19 April, 2016

P is for Perahera

This is a festival, not a place. The Perahera festival in Kandy, Sri Lanka is truly unique. Please bear with me as I recall what I can, as I was in Junior High when we lived there.

Notice the torches being carried. Because, dark.
...Also, the parade takes place at night, so the pictures from my cheap camera of the time are kind of bad.

It’s a religious festival, but blends both Hindu and Buddhist elements. Technically, I suppose, it’s a celebration of the various shrines in the city of Kandy – there are many, from both religions.

The Sacred Buddha's Tooth

Kandy is home to a large Buddhist temple, wherein resides the sacred relic of Buddha’s tooth.

Substantial tusks for an Asian Elephant.

During the climactic moment of the huge Perahera parade, on – I believe – the final night of this multi-day festival, the Shrine of the Tooth (most likely a replica) is carried along the parade route on a brilliantly decorated “Tusker” elephant.

(Not all Asian elephants have tusks. I’m not sure what the criteria are for one to become a Tusker, but he certainly has grand tusks!)

The parade begins at sunset, with drums.
Oh, and they're dancing.
Lots of drums.
Not like a marching band drum-line, but tribal drums.
Individual drums, each carried by its own drummer.

I think the drummers were also interspersed between the other elements of the parade, like marching bands break up the floats in an American parade.
Only instead of floats there were more daring elements.

Like fire-breathers, apparently.


High priest?

And religious leaders instead of "Grand Marshals".

One part that freaked me out were the religious-devout (Hindu, I think) dancing through the street with hooks in their back, that another person was tugging on via cords. I believe that they are in some kind of a trance when they do that. But don't quote me.


Moral of the Story: Go watch a parade once in a while - you never know what you may see!


  1. That is amazing. The lights on the elephant must have been spectacular.

    It's so funny thinking about those cameras now, where you had to adjust where you stood, rather than it focusing. And film.

    1. I could have dropped in a picture from the internet, but if I have my own pics, I try to use those. If you google Perahera, you can see some better images.

  2. Replies
    1. It was. We only saw it once, and I'm so glad!

  3. Fascinating, Red. Thank you. I'm learning a lot about Sri Lanka and India here.

    1. Growing up overseas colored my world view at an early age, that's for sure.

  4. I went to a clown parade once. It was very colorful and no one had to be hooked.

    1. All parades are fun, no matter what the theme.


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