Kandy esala ceremony, Festivals of Sri Lanka


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Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural country, therefore, the number of important festivals in Sri Lanka exceeds many dozens. It is hardly any month without an important festival in Sri Lanka.

The Full moon of each month of the calendar is a public holiday, which has a religious significance. Full moon day is especially important for Buddhists and the day is reserved for religious observances. 

The full moon day of every month is known to be significant for Buddhists on the island, which is called poya days in the local language. On the official holiday of Poya people are engaging in religious activities, most of the time in the Buddhist temple. The exact days of festivals in Sri Lanka varied from year to year, depending on the Lunar or solar face.

All visitors to these sacred places suppose to dress in a particular manner to uphold their religious values. There is a set of rules that every visitor to religious sites observes while visiting sacred places in Sri Lanka. If you are wondering what these rules are? Check this article “13 RULES TO OBSERVE WHILE VISITING SRI LANKA BUDDHIST TEMPLE, SRI LANKA TEMPLE DRESS CODE TEMPLE OF THE TOOTH DRES’s CODE“.

Sri Lanka is a country that hosts many international sporting events and Sri Lanka is visited by a large number of fans. Sri Lanka hosts many sports events, particularly in the fields of Cricket, Golf, athletics, and water sports. Football, motor racing, rugby and horse race events are organized more often than in the past, in various scenic locations in the country.

The ancient civilization of Sri Lanka has endowed the country with a legacy of colourful and religious festivals. It is very difficult to find a month without a unique religious and national festival of diverse cultures and religions, celebrated by Sri Lanka people with genius pageantry and ceremony.

Sporting in Sri Lanka also attracts many fanfares. While Sri Lanka has earned recognition among the South-Asian countries for sports such as Cricket, Football, Swimming and athletics, an increasing array of sporting events including golf tournaments, motor races and water sports events are becoming more popular and performed in some of the most scenic places.

Sri Pada Pilgrim Season or Adam’s peak Pilgrim Season

Adam’s peak or Sripada is known to the world as a mountain, which is over 2237 meters in height. Sri Pada is the 5th highest mountain in the country and holds some importance for every major religion on the island. The mountain is situated in the Southwestern part of Sri Lanka’s hill country.

Trekking to Adams peak (holy mountain) is significant to major religions on the island. The pilgrim season begins on the full moon of December and lasts for 6 months. Thousands of pilgrims representing all major religions climb the mountain to perform their religious activities at the shrine on top of the mountain. One of the rewards for the tiresome 6 hours of the climb is the unforgettable view of the sunrise. The mountain is surrounded by a virgin forest known as peak wilderness.

People who come to the summit make observances and pay homage to the sacred footprint. The pilgrimage season starts on the full-moon day in December and lasts till the full-moon day of next year April. Buddhists believe that the footprint is belonging to Buddha while people from other religions make climb the mountain owing to their own religious reasons.

Festivals of Sri Lanka: Vesak Festival

Vesak festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha and it falls on the full moon of May. The festival is celebrated throughout the island and people are encouraged o participate in Buddhist religious activities. Colourful decorations such as pandals and lanterns are erected at every corner of the country and every Buddhist household is decorated with colourful decorations.

Everyone in the Buddhist world knows about this ceremony and it is a big event celebrated all around the Buddhist countries. Sri Lanka is a multi-national, multicultural holiday destination with an important celebration every month.  But, this particular event is the far most important Buddhist religious celebration in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankans love it and everybody takes part in the event. The event takes place in the month of May on full moon day. The ceremony is known on the island as the Vesak ceremony. Vesak is a 2-day Buddhist festival, which commemorates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha.  This ceremony is celebrated in most Buddhist countries around the world. Vesak can be described as the most colourful event in Sri Lanka.

No one really sure about how this ceremony began but it is certainly one of the most historical ceremonies on the island and now it is a strong tradition among the Buddhist community. Every street, road, house and every corner of the country is lighted and decorated with colourful decorations.

Lanterns, Pandalas, lighting, oil lamps and many other items are used for the decorations. This massive ceremony is celebrated throughout the country but Colombo takes the centre of the whole ceremony. All busy streets are closed to traffic and the roads are flanked with beautiful decorations. Usually, one week is dedicated to the ceremony and people travel to Colombo to see the main celebration, from far away destinations in Sri Lanka.

The temples around the country get a massive influx of devotees during the 2 days ceremony. People gather at the temple to observe Sil (mediation), and Buddhist precepts and listen to Buddhist chanting. This ceremony shows the dedication of the Buddhists of Sri Lanka to the religion.

Most foreign travellers are surprised to see the massive and colourful decoration that can be seen during the Vesak ceremony.  

The government officially declares a period of one week for the celebration of Vesak. During this period there is no permission to sell alcohol throughout the country. The move is taken in order to encourage people to abstain from alcohol, which is one of the main five precepts of Buddhism.

Almsgiving is another popular method of celebrating the Vesak ceremony in Sri Lanka. In parallel to Vesak decoration, a large number of people engage in almsgiving. It is very common to see the places that distribute food and drinks free of charge, during this week. Usually, almsgivings are organized with the donations of the people in the immediate area.

Sometimes other materials such as dry rations are distributed among the people. If you happen to spend your holiday in Sri Lanka during the month of May, you can’t afford to miss this beautiful celebration. Colombo is the best place to see the Vesak celebration at its best. The streets are decorated with the participation of people.

The exhibits are evaluated during the ceremony and the best decorations are given price gifts. Bauddhaloka Vesak Kalapaya and Gangarama Vesak Kalapaya are the leading decoration areas with many years of experience of organizers.

Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and Buddha Rashmi Pooja

Every year Bauddhaloka Mawatha Colombo 7 will be illuminated like a burning candle for 7 days during the annual event of Vesak festival. The number of spectators, who visit the event exceeds many thousands every year. There is a large number of exhibits that can be seen at the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and the number of exhibitors is increasing every year.

Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone is one of the oldest and most important events in Colombo, which is organized to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddha. The event is organized by the Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC). Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone was started in 2000 under the guidance of Dr. (Mrs.) Milina Sumathipala. A designated area of the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone is starting at Borella junction and ends at Thunmulla Junction.

There are many places in Colombo that make arrangements for the Vesak celebration, such as “Buddha Rashmi Pooj” which is organized by the Gangarama temple and the presidential secretariat.

Other than a large number of creative exhibits from the participants of this annual event there will be many activities throughout the celebration of Vesak. Mediation campaigns, Bakthi Gee, Drawings and Paintings competition are a few events that attract the attention of the crowd.  People are welcome to produce attractive and creative exhibits for the Bauddhaloka Vesak Zone and there will be cash prizes for the best exhibits.

Festivals of Sri Lanka: Durutu Perehera

Durutu Perehera is taking place in the month of January every year. This colourful pageant is organized by the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, Kelaniya. The event is taking place in Kelaniya some 12 km away from Colombo.

Festivals of Sri Lanka: Thai Pongal

Thai Pongal is one of the major celebrations of the Tamil community around the world. The event is known as the thanksgiving festival as well. The event is celebrated on the 14th march of January.

National day celebration

The national day celebration is organized to commemorate the granting of independence to the island in 1948. The event is participated by the head of the state and showcases the strength of the economy, defence, education, health sector, technology and other important fields. The Independence Day celebration falls on the 4th of February.

Nawam Perehera

Nawam full moon day falls on the full moon day of February. The Nawam full moon day is celebrated in with a colourful pageant in Colombo at Gangarama Maha Vihara. The beautiful procession is participated by a large number of beautifully decorated elephants and parades around the city.

New Year Festival

The New Year festival is organized in every household of the Sinhalese and Tamil community of Sri Lanka in order to welcome the New Year. It is one of the oldest traditional events on the islands and is celebrated with the participation of family members. Traditional games, costumes, traditional dishes, and sweetmeats are given importance during the two days of celebration.

Poson Full Moon Day

The Poson festival is celebrated on the Full Moon Day of June. The event celebrates one of the turning points of the island, which took place more than 2000 years back. The event is organized to celebrate the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka from India. A large number of Buddhist devotees gather in Anuradhapura, and Mihintale where the celebration is at its most colourful.

Esala Ceremony

Kandy, the temple of the tooth is the venue of the celebration of the Esala ceremony.  The event is known as Esala Ceremony (Dalada Perehera) and takes place for 10 consecutive days. This is the most colourful pageant on the island. It is participated by a large number of foreign and local tourists. Esala ceremony showcases the traditional arts and crafts, dancing, music and traditional costumes of upcountry chieftains.

Kataragama festival

The annual event is organized at the temple of Kataragama in the southern corner of Sri Lanka. The event is attended by a large number of devotees of Buddhists as well as Hindus. The annual event is organized in the month of July.

Devundara Esala Ceremony

The Esala ceremony of Dewundara takes place in the month of August. Dewundara is the southernmost city of Sri Lanka and the venue for a shrine dedicated to God Vishnu. The festival is celebrated with many activities in the temple and followed by a beautiful procession, which is participated by dancers, firecrackers, musicians and elephants.

Bellanvila Procession

The Esala ceremony of Bellenavila Raja Maha vihara also takes place in the month of August. The procession parade around the temple and attended by low country and upcountry dancers, elephants and musicians.


Munneswara, a popular Hindu temple, which is dedicated to God Vishnu, is located about 75 km north of Colombo. The annual event of the Esala ceremony takes place in the month of August and is attended by a large number of Hindu devotees.

Madhu festival

This Roman Catholic Marian shrine is one of the most sacred places for the Catholic community in the country. The holy church is located in Mannar, northwest Sri Lanka. There are three feats organized at the church in July, August and October. The festival in August attracts the largest crowd, which surpassed one million people.

Nallur festival

Nallur festival can be described as one of the most attended Hindu festivals on the island and the largest festival in the northern-most city of Sri Lanka. The celebration takes place in the month of August.

Vel festival

Vel festival is one of the leading Hindu festivals in the city of Colombo. The celebration is dedicated to God Skanda and parade along the streets of Colombo. The celebration takes place in the month of August.

Udappu festival

The annual event is organized in the fishing village of Udappu in North-west Sri Lanka. The event is dedicated to Goddess Drupadi. Firewalking is the most highlighted in the event. The event is organized in the month of August.


Deepavali or Deepavali is a traditional annual festival celebrated by Hindus around the world.  People are prepared with cleaned households, new clothes, illuminated houses, and ritual oil baths to welcome the Goddess Lakshmi. The celebration takes place in November.

Uduwap Full Moon Day

The annual event is commemorating the procurement of Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi in the 2nd century BC. Today the tree is residing in the city of Anuradhapura.


The Christian community of Sri Lanka also celebrates the Christmas with rest of the global Christian community on the 25th of December.

Colombo fashion week

The city of Colombo, Sri Lanka is highlighted in the tourism arena as a place to visit, when the Colombo Fashion Week kick-off every year. Colombo is one of the most exciting cosmopolitan cities in the region with a rich cultural and historical heritage.

According to the latest statistics, more than 60% of the tourists, who visit the island spend time in the city of Colombo suggesting that Colombo is a must-visit city in the country. Colombo is more than yet another metropolis and it is worth enduring the hordes of people if you do not like to miss the treasures of the city.

The Colombo Fashion week will showcase some of the leading tourist attractions in the city. This vibrant city is full of unique experiences and fine dining is another must-do activity for its visitor. Colombo Fashion Week will highlight several selected fine dining spots that allow you to feast in style. They will introduce some fine dining specialities with a professional twist.

This sprawling mass of fun, fashion, food and high living definitely should be on your itinerary, especially if you happened to be in Colombo in the month of March, when this glorious event electrifies downtown, Colombo.

This year (2015) “The standing scooter” a new mode of transport will be a highlight of the Colombo fashion week hosted by Hilton Colombo. It definitely catches the market in the future as it provides a safe and cheap alternative to public transport, which could be a nightmare sometimes. The facility is available from the host hotel.

The event will be mirrored on the popular TV channel “fashion TV” under the theme “Celebrate Colombo”. The event will be witnessed by hundreds of millions of Europeans through fashion TV.

At the backdrop of the growth of Sri Lanka’s tourism industry due to a large number of arrivals from China and India, still, the growth of traditional markets such as UK, Germany, and France are stagnated for the last several years. Colombo Fashion show would be a great opportunity to enlighten these traditional markets, through Fashion TV.

SLTB is the mastermind behind the Colombo fashion week and the event would be a boost for the tourism industry. The next year Colombo fashion week is planned to be held in China. The influx of Chinese travellers contributed immensely to the island’s tourism industry during the last several years.

Further increase in Chinese travellers is expected in coming years and experts forecast the number would oust the traditional UK market as the main contributor to the island’s inbound tourism. The overall outlook for Sri Lanka’s tourism industry looks positive for the year 2015. With a large number of arrival from China and India, the stakeholders are very optimistic about the future growth of the industry.

The Colombo fashion show is also a great opportunity for Sri Lankan designers to promote their products in the local and international markets as well as build their profiles. The involvement of CWF (Commonwealth Fashion Council) based in London is helping to globalize the event.

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