Pomp and ceremony live on large in Sri Lanka, and never moreso than in Perahera across the nation.
A celebration of Buddhist faith, the annual Kelaniya Duruthu Maha Perahera is held every pre-full moon day of January or ‘Duruthu Poya’ in commemoration of Lord Buddha’s visit to Sri Lanka.
The service begins in the temple, but the crowd of hundreds of thousands is here to see the parade. It starts with the whipcrackers – boys as young as 5 cracking man-sized whips, the crowd looking on in a mixture of anticipation and amazement.
Then, the dancers. Kandyan traditional dancers, dressed to the nines, crowd the streets and woo the crowd with their moves that signify power and authority.
Finally, the moment. The first elephant appears. Regaled in velvet finery, his robes are interwoven with globes, lighting up the night like a thousand stars.
The royal tusker is bound in gold, and the sacred casket carried atop. He’s trained for this all his life – it is his moment.
A hundred other elephants may follow, but he doesn’t see them. The crowd goes wild until the very last moment, until the final blessed beast returns to the temple.
Image courtesy of D.Jones Photography and may not be reproduced without permission.