HISTORICAL KANDY ESALA PERAHARA
Buddhist Literature unveils various pageants and festivities held in great honor of Lord Buddha. The perahara pageant concept became popular during the reign of Emperor Asoka of India. Historical Kandy Esala Perahera really pageant which displays traditional customs. Majority of them been intermingled with the Buddhist and Hindu religious customs.
Yet they display and highlight the great value of the Sinhala culture. Most of the customs have taken from on statues stated in the “Dantha Dhathu Charitha” or “Dalada Siritha” (a book on the customs pertaining to the sacred Tooth Relic) Written during the regime of Parakramabahu IV (1302-1326) of Kurunagala.
The Dalada Siritha stated 38 statutes, on which a perahara pageant should be conducted.Accordingly, the Shrine Room of the Sacred Tooth Relic should be cleaned at the auspicious hour. canopies should be tied, should be decorated beautifully with various silk clothes; The king team of ministers and general public of the city should make offering of rice, flowers and light oil lamps on the 7th day morning, the city should be decorated like the heaven on the same day evening, the chief priests of Uttara Mula Sect personnel of two castes Ganavesi and Kilin should move the Sacred Relic casked with utmost veneration.
These rites were performed annually. Even today rights were performed accordingly.
The first procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic starts with the Kumbal Perahera (kumbal procession). This is the first Kumbal Perahera shown to the infants to drive away Evil Spells and Ill will. It is a tradition that the procession parades the streets of Kandy for five days.
But the Kumbal Perahera is popular and remains as an unfinished procession or a semi procession. The reason is that Nilames do not walk in this procession. But the Drummers and Tuskers take part without any ceremonial costumes.
RANDOLI PERAHERA (RANDOLI PROCESSION)
This could be seen only with the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic and parade the streets for whole five days which is a tradition.
In the days of the Kings, the Chief Queens of the Kings paraded in this procession in Palanquins. As the participation of the Queens was not proper to the procession of the Sacred Tooth Relic they were stopped but a palanquin is taken in the procession as an honor to the Queen. Today it is taken as the last item of the procession.
The four Devalas carry their own decorated palanquins with religious articles of the Devales. Although palanquins are carried the honor they receive is no less.