Island Festivals


    Our island nation with a mixed culture is always busy with festivities at every nook and corner. From colorful world renowned street pageants to local village based festivals and rituals. Sri Lanka has an array of religious and traditional cultural events that one shouldn’t miss. The Full Moon day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, a fact you should note while on your Sri Lanka holiday. Liquor shops, Bars and Pubs are closed on such days, including those in your Sri Lanka Holiday resort or Hotel.

    • Day 01

    • Airport -> Colombo -> Sightseeing and Leisure

      Enjoy time in the city of Colombo
    • Day 02

    • Travel to Pinnawela -> Then to Kandy-> Sightseeing in Kandy

      Stay in Hills of Kandy
    • Day 03

    • Travel by local train -> Hatton -> Walk in Tea Gardens -> Leisure - -> Then to Kandy-> Sightseeing in Kandy

      Stay close to Tea Gardens in Hatton
      Night time Climb Adams Peak
    • Day 04

    • Return to hotel -> Leisure

      Stay close to Tea Gardens in Hatton
    • Day 05

    • Travel to Kitulgala-> Proceed to Bentota

      Leisure by the beach in Bentota
    • Day 06

    • In Bentota @ leisure

      Leisure by the beach in Bentota
    • Day 07

    • Back home

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    Duruthu Perehera Kelaniya or Procession takes place to celebrate the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka and attracts hundreds and thousands of devotees alongside visitors. This colourful pageant comprises caparisoned elephants, along with dancers, drummers, and musicians playing traditional instruments. The Randoli Perehera, the magnificent and most colourful finale, is held the day prior to the January full moon which is the most filled up and vibrant pagent of the series of processions.
    Prior to the full moon in February the spectacle called ‘Gangaramaya Perahera’ takes to the streets with more than 100 caparisoned elephants brought from all over the island. Since 1979 (the year it was first held) the Navam Maha Perahera has attracted nearly a million spectators to the Gangaramaya Temple, at Hunupitiya, Colombo that overlooks the picturesque Beira Lake and is surrounded by urban modern day skyscrapers.
    The New Year Festival (Aluth Avurudu) of the Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus in the island coincides with the end of harvest season. The New Year dawns with the transition of the sun from the house of Pisces to that of Aries, a belief according to the Vedic Solar Calendar. The New Year usually begins on 13th and 14th April with the exact time determined by the constellation of the planets. The country grinds to a halt with people traveling home to be with their families during the auspicious moments. The household rituals are determined by astrological prescriptions such as lighting the fire and cooking Kiri Batha (milk rice). The celebrations then begin, with families mingling in the villages and streets with Kawun and Kokis (sweet oil cake made with rice flour and treacle and crispy Papad like bite snack) freely distributed amongst family and friends.
    Vesak is the main Buddhist religious festival in the country which falls on the full moon in May. Vesak is the first month of the Buddha Nirvana calendar. The Buddhists celebrate the events of the life of the Buddha. His birth, his attaining of Enlightenment and his passing (Attaining Nirvana). Buddhists especially the elderly and young spend time in prayer (Sil) religious observances at temples and shrines. Streets light up in full of bright illuminations (Lanterns) and colourful Pandals (Thoran), the roadside also fills up with scattered stalls (Dansal) distributing free refreshments to passers-by and pilgrims who roam to view the colourful attractions which depict mostly life stories which are of religious importance showcasing to the pilgrims the path to reach nirvana.
    The month of June commemorates the birth and conversion of Sri Lanka to Buddhism in the 3rd century BC. It is believed the first sermon took place in village called Mihintale in the Anuradhapura district. Illuminations and processions can be seen all over the country with the most impressive being at Mihintale. Having listened to the words of Arahat Mahinda the son of Emperor Asoka the Sri Lanka’s king (Devanam Piyatissa) converted to Buddhism. It is also a popular belief that King Devanam Piyatissa is the pioneer in conceptualizing the National Park concept by naming the jungle of Mihintale a hunt free zone to protect wild animals following the preaching’s.
    August each year 10 days prior to the full moon, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, encased in a golden casket, is taken in procession on the back of the temple elephant around the city of Kandy a UNESCO world heritage city. The series of pageants in all probability is amongst the most spectacular torch lit parade in the whole of Asia. For centuries sacred ritual has been followed to pay homage to the holy tooth relic of Lord Buddha, auspicious and religious activities are meticulously followed in line with age old traditions in preparation to the annual festival. The old cannon booms at dusk followed by the Procession descending on to the streets every night, the parades grow longer each night until the final night of pageantry, when the parade is at its pinnacle, More than a hundred elephants dressed in their fabulous lighten up attire, Kandyan chieftains in their traditional royal regalia, thousands of dancers, drummers, flag bearers, fire-juggling acrobats, musicians, whip crackers, torch bearers and thousands of barefoot pilgrims walk in torch lit procession. People in their thousands line the streets of Kandy every night during the festival to catch a glimpse of the golden casket and to pay homage to the Buddha with thousands chanting Sadhu! Sadhu! as the casket passes by.
    Bellanwila a temple located in the suburbs of Colombo and holds a colourful Perahera (Pageant) paying homage to the Buddha in August annually. The Perahera features traditional dancers, drummers and colourful folk items. The temple has a significant historic value due to its sacred Bo tree which is one of the thirty-two saplings that sprung from the sacred Bo tree at Anuradhapura (Sri Maha Bodiya).
    The Shrine in the Deep South honours the God Kataragama (Skandha) worshipped by Buddhists and Hindus with equal passion and devotion. The two-week long festival attracts thousands of Hindu devotees who bear chariots; pierce their flesh with hooks, and commit acts of penitence mostly to honour vows beseeching the compassion of the God Skandha. The rituals conducted in a frenzied air of urgency reaches its end with the “water-cutting” ceremony (Diya Kepeema). A holy casket is dipped in the Menik Ganga the sacred river. This ritual by the riverside attract thousands of pilgrims who submerge themselves – with their arms raised and crying “Haro Hara” in respect to the God of many names – God Skandha, Lord Murugan and God Kataragama. As early as 4 am after the river cleansings are concluded, the square in front of the main temple is cleared and carefully covered with burning Tamarind fire wood. Cleansed pilgrims slowly make their way, barefoot, across the burning coals. The devotion protects the soles of their feet from burning, the souls relived after the rituals are concluded.
    A Hindu Religious festival to evoke honour to Lord Murugan. The festival is held each year between the months of May through August, the auspicious date for the festival is usually announced 45 days prior. Devotees draw the idols of Lord Murugan, Sri Valli and Theivaanai on silver plated colourful chariots from the temple of Kathiseran in the busy commercial hub of Colombo Pettah to the more ornate and grand Bambalapitiya (Colombo 04) shrine on Galle road in the city of Colombo. The decorated chariot is followed by musicians and devotees singing in praise of Lord Murugan. Cracking fresh coconuts nuts and burning incense add to the holiness of the ritual conducted to celebrate the victory of Lord Murugan over evil forces.
    A picturesque Hindu festivals celebrated in November is also called the Festival of Light, the triumph of good over evil. The festival is marked by illuminations in the form of clay and brass lamps and making figures known as ‘Misri’ made out of sugar. Oil lamps that are lit in plenty are invitations to the Goddess of wealth and success ‘Lakshmi’.
    Roman Catholic Church located by the beach in Kalpitiya is known to have held its annual feast for more than 3 centuries annually in August. Dedicated to the mother of the Virgin Mary. It is reputed as a place of miraculous healing by the faithful. Pilgrims flock to the annual festival from all over the island and some spend close to week camping in the area making it pilgrim and picnic outing maintaining religious observances and prayers. It really doesn’t matter when you decide to holiday in Sri Lanka, You are bound to see some festivities whilst on tour around Sri Lanka at least one of the many festivals, processions and or rituals taking place.

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