Since our last vacation was in April, Dan and I were overdue for a break from Arugam Bay. After a five hour car ride to Kandy where I managed to only to puke once, we made it to the mountain city of Kandy about 5pm. Ceni and I had decided to stay at the famous Victoria Country Club, which is about 30 minutes outside of Kandy. The room was fabulous with a walk in shower that had a view of the stars and a balcony that overlooked the golf course. Dan and I were starving due to not having lunch so we went to the club house for much anticipated hamburgers and cold Lion beers.
The main reason that we went to Kandy, was to witness the annual Perahera festival. Kandy Perahera is a procession that honors the sacred tooth enshrined in the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic. This event occurs every August for ten days depending on the moon cycle in Kandy. Larry and Ceni had made reservations for the four of us on Friday August 15th at the Queens Hotel. The tickets were $40 and we were informed they are worth every penny. We were suppose to be in our seats by 7:30 pm, but we were late. Traffic was bad, we left a little late, and the check point took their time (and seem to enjoy) frisking Ceni and I head to toe. Talk about invading your personal space, I was shocked they didn't have us strip for them. Jeez. We scored second row seats from the street, but they packed us in like sardines. We, literally could not move and I barely had enough space between chair in front of me...so you can imagine what Dan knees were feeling. Larry was under the impression we would be able to order beers for this event, so I didn't bother to bring a water bottle. After sitting down I asked the guy where do we order the beers, he freaked out a little. "Madam this is a religious event we do not serve alcohol or drinks." Oh right...what was I thinking this is a Buddhist event, damn a cold beer would be nice while sitting here in this cramped chair on a really warm evening. Someone could make some serious cash selling at least cold water and snacks. Maybe I should have taken a religion class in college to remind myself not all events involve the right to drink cold beer. So we sat there waiting for the parade, I mean procession, to start and playing with the night time settings on our cameras.
The show finally started at about 8:30 pm.
These guys with long whips started the parade off. People throw them coins and only these guys received coins. They sure could crack the whip! You could even see a spark and it was very loud.
This guy was rolling on the ground while fire was attached to a string that was some how attached to his head and spinning it in circles around his body. You would think if you were rolling on the ground that one would wear black or dark colors, so the dirt does not show and easier to clean. Oh yes the religion thing again, I bet only allowed to wear white. Go the power of Bleach!
Lots of talented fire dancers making their way down the street, dancing and showing off their skills.
Then there was firer dancers on stilts! Cool beans man.....
Next the flag men came marching down the street.
The drummers were next, but you could hear them coming from a kilometer away.
The costumes on the elephants were amazing. Very detailed, colorful, some had lights and pretty much head to toe covered. I wonder how long it takes to dress an elephant?
The Kandy Dancers were fun to watch with bright and very detailed costumes as well. The fun part of this celebration was the wide range of people that participated. There was very little ones that could barely walk to the wise older men that most likely have been part of this event for years.
Boys with swords marched by.
Many different shapes and sizes of horns were played.
Some elephants had a rider and some didn't, but they all had a Mahout (elephant handler) walking along side of them. One elephant totally took a dump in front of us and a Kandy Dancer almost stepped in it.
Pretty brass flags with different symbols on each. There was many different types of flags throughout the event, but not sure what they all mean.
More drummers come down the street.
Not one elephant, but three at one time. Really at this point I was thinking 'thank goodness', because we were told there would be over forty elephants tonight in the procession.
Yes those are indeed hooks in that guys back, I could not stop staring at them, but at the same time I so wanted to close my eyes.
More pretty elephants walking by. There was one elephant that I felt truly bad for as it limped by. Otherwise most of the elephants looked like they were enjoying the music and a few were actually dancing.
This guy looked important so we took his picture.
The strongest smell that comes to mind from the event is kerosene. The fire torches were the only light for the parade (except for the elephants!) but also kept us hot and embers were constantly flying into our laps.
Many talents for this event.
The Grand Elephant! This is the largest elephant from India that is caring the Sacred Tooth Relic. The old one died a few years back, but they stuffed him and can be viewed at the museum by the temple of the Tooth Relic. One would think after the grand event the parade would be over, but no way we had to sit through yet another hour. The event didn't finish until after 11 pm and 60 plus elephants. The last hour would have been easier to handle with a "cold one."
Here is a video, I hope you enjoy.