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Heritage Lanka - Festivals
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Hi Lucien & Lankan Heritage Team,
Hope all is well with you, your family and your great company Lankan Heritage & Tours
All of us wanted to thank you again for the great time we hadIt was definitely.....
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  January    
 
Every full moon day in Sri Lanka is known as poya, a Buddhist public holiday in which adherents dress in white to visit the temple from dawn until dusk to pray, meditate and listen to religious discourse. The 12 poya days each year are individually named and concern the life of the Buddha and Buddhism. Duruthu Poya, the initial full moon day of the Gregorian calendar, commemorates the Buddha's first of three visits to Sri Lanka. The Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya or Kelaniya Temple, near Colombo, hosts a perahera, literally .procession., to mark this symbolic event. The perahera is a spectacular aspect of Sri Lanka.s festivals in which an array of traditionally-attired dancers, drummers, whip-crackers, acrobats, and enrobed elephants, participate.
 
     
  Febrauary    
 
Every full moon day in Sri Lanka is known as poya, a Buddhist public holiday in which adherents dress in white to visit the temple from dawn until dusk to pray, meditate and listen to religious discourse. The 12 poya days each year are individually named and concern the life of the Buddha and Buddhism. Duruthu Poya, the initial full moon day of the Gregorian calendar, commemorates the Buddha's first of three visits to Sri Lanka. The Kelaniya Raja Maha Viharaya or Kelaniya Temple, near Colombo, hosts a perahera, literally .procession., to mark this symbolic event. The perahera is a spectacular aspect of Sri Lanka.s festivals in which an array of traditionally-attired dancers, drummers, whip-crackers, acrobats, and enrobed elephants, participIndependence Day, celebrating independence from Great Britain in 1948, falls on February 4. Parades, dances, processions and national games are organized all over the island. But the main event is held in Colombo, attended mostly by politicians. 27th February - Milad - Un- Nabi ( Holy Prophet's Birthday ) Muslims celebrate the birth of the most important Prophet in Islam by listening to speeches about his life and his teachings 28th February - Medin Full Moon Poya Day Commemorates the visit of The Buddha to his home to preach to his father King Suddhodana and other relatives and show them the path to enlightenment and final deliverance Started in 1979, the Gangaramaya Navam Perahera has since developed into one of Sri Lanka.s finest. Held at night on Navam Poya at the Gangaramaya Vihara in the heart of Colombo, it.s a popular tourist attraction that can be viewed from stands located along the roadside of the procession's route. The fascinating preparations, particularly the arrival of over 100 tame elephants at Viharamahadevi Park during the daytime, can also be observed. ate.
 
     
  March    
 
The Hindu festival of Maha Sivarathri, or .The Great Night of Shiva., is celebrated in late February or early March in Hindu homes and temples across the country. This is the most important religious festival of the year for Shaivites, who comprise the majority of Sri Lanka.s Hindus. It is a deeply symbolic occasion: poojas are held at kovils during the day and can be witnessed by visitors, and every Hindu household keeps an all-night vigil.
 
     
  April    
 
Sri Lankan New Year, which occurs usually on the 13th and 14th of April, is a non-religious festival celebrated by the whole population. Originally a harvest thanksgiving, it does not begin at midnight on the designated day, because, like many events in Sri Lanka, the precise (.auspicious.) timings are decided upon astrologically. It.s believed New Year commences not when the old one ends, but a few hours later. The interval between the old and the new is called nona gathe, or .neutral period., during which all activities cease. When the New Year commences, fresh activities begin: a fire is lit and new clothes are worn. Then comes the gana-denu, or .give and take. in which money is exchanged. The festival culminates when oil is mixed with a herbal paste and a respected elder anoints the head of each family member. Over the festive period traditional games, both indoor and out, such as kotta pora (pillow fighting) and havari hengima (hiding the wig) are played in homes and villages, bringing together families and communities. Many shops are closed for up to a week over New Year as people travel en-masse with gifts and specially prepared festive food to offer to family and friends.
 
     
  May    
 
The most important Buddhist full moon day is in May . Vesak Poya - which marks the Buddha.s birth, enlightenment and passing away (Pariniwana). Large pandals (bamboo frameworks) hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha are erected in the streets, illuminated by flashing coloured light bulbs. Roadside dansalas (stalls) offering free food and soft drinks to passers-by are notable features of the event. Among the many striking Vesak decorations are intricate paper lanterns of different shapes and sizes, and little clay coconut oil lamps (pol-thel pahana) that flicker throughout the island. Visitors to Sri Lanka at this time will not fail to witness and be moved by the beautiful displays of lanterns outside every Buddhist home, business and temple.
 
     
  June    
 
Poson Poya is second in importance to Vesak since it commemorates the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka in 247BC. The focus of this festival is the ancient capital of the country, Anuradhapura, and the mountainous Mihintale Temple, reached by 1,840 steps, where King Devanampiyatissa was converted to Buddhism in the third century BC. During Poson, the mountain is illuminated and devotees climb the steps in their thousands to pay homage to the event.
 
     
  July    
 
Sri Lanka.s most prominent festival is the magnificent Kandy Esala Perahera, held in the hill capital of Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on Esala Poya. The perahera.s origins date back to the third century BC, but the modern event originated in the mid-18th century when the Kandyan king decreed that once a year the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha, kept at the Dalada Maligawa, or .Temple of the Tooth., should be displayed in a procession for the people to venerate. Today, thousands - including many visitors - flock to Kandy during this dazzling ten-day festival, where, under a star-studded moon-filled sky, the streets of the city appear as flowing threads of fire, colour, and stylized motion, mostly created by flaming torches and enrobed and light bulb-encrusted elephants led by the Maligawa Tusker, on whose back is a gold casket containing the relic.
 
     
  August    
 
In the southeast of the island, the sacred site of Kataragama is brought to life with its unique annual Esala festival, which commemorates the victory of the six-faced, 12-armed Hindu war god, Skanda, over an army of demons at Kataragama. Naturally, many Hindu devotees make the pilgrimage to the shrine, but Buddhists, Muslims and some Christians also honour this god. During this 10-day festival pilgrims demonstrate their sincerity by performing astonishing acts of penance and self-mortification. These include walking barefoot atop hot coals and spearing themselves with hooks. At Dondra, Sri Lanka's southernmost point, just five kilometers from Matara, a notable festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu featuring low-country dances, traditional rituals, a perahera and a handicrafts fair, is held in July. During the same month and commencing on the Esala Poya day is a seven-day festival with a perahera in Unawatuna, near Galle, where thousands of devotees descend on the village and beach.
 
     
  September    
 
Commemorates The Buddha's visit to heaven to preach to his mother and celestial multitude. Also the commencing of the Bhikkhuni (nun's) Order. Pajapati Gotami approached The Buddha and implored him to establish the Bhikkhuni Order.
 
     
  October    
 
The Hindu festival Deepavali, or the Festival of Lights (known in India and elsewhere as Diwali) celebrates an aspect of the epic poem, the Ramayana - the homecoming of the hero, the Indian Prince Rama, after a 14-year exile in the forest following his victory over Lanka.s evil King Ravana. In the legend, the people welcomed Rama by lighting rows of lamps, and that.s exactly what happens today. Devotees all over the country wear new clothes and cook sweet dishes to propitiate the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, who is also associated with the festival.
 
     
  November    
 
Il Full Moon Poya Day (2009-11-02 To 2008-11-02) Ill (full moon Poya day in November) Celebrates the obtaining of Vivarana (the assurance of becoming a Buddha) by the Bodhisatta Maitriya and the commissioning of 60 disciples by The Buddha, to disperse his teachings.
 
     
  December    
 
Unduvap (full moon Poya day in December) Arrival of the Bo-tree sapling. This was brought to Sri Lanka from India by Buddhist Theri Sanghamitta, and it is this very tree that is venerated by Buddhists in Anuradhapura. It is also the oldest documented tree in the world. Sanghamitta Theri established the Bhikkhuni Sasana (the Order of Nuns).
 
     
  Esala Perahera    
 
The Esala Perahera (A-suh-luh peh-ruh-ha-ruh) is the grand festival of Esala held in Kandy. Its one of the largest festivals itis believed to be a fusion of two separate but interconnected "Perahera" (Processions) – The Esala and Dalada. The Esala Perahera which is thought to date back to the 3rd century BC, was a ritual enacted to request the gods for rainfall. The Dalada Perahera is believed to have begun when the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India during the 4th Century AD.
 
     
   
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