Festivals …of Sri Lanka
For a relatively small island, Sri Lanka has a remarkable cultural diversity. It is said that Sri Lanka has more festivals than any other country in the world. With four main religions on the island, Sri Lanka has a legacy of colourful celebrations and religious festivals.
Below we highlight some of the exciting celebrations to give you inspiration for your next holiday to this enchanted island.
The Duruthu Perehera (January)
This religious and cultural pageant celebrates the first visit of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka at a sacred temple near Colombo. The celebration features elephants, dancers, drummers and musicians playing traditional wind instruments, and attracts thousands of visitors.
The New Year Festival (April)
This festival, celebrated by Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus of Sri Lanka, marks the end of harvest. People travel home to celebrate the occasion with friends and family. As part of the celebration, new clothes are worn and kawun and kokis (small ‘oil cakes’, a sort of fried pancake, and crispy sweetmeat) are freely distributed.
Vesak is the main religious Buddhist festival and holds a great significance to Buddhists in Sri Lanka as well as around the world. This holy festival commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Lord Buddha. Devotees visit temples and shrines to offer prayers and flowers, and participate in the traditional ceremonies. Homes are decorated and streets are illuminated with colourful lanterns of different shapes and sizes.
The Poson Festival (June)
The festival of Poson, the second biggest festival after Vesak, commemorates the conversion of Sri Lanka to Buddhism in the third century BC. Illuminations and pageants take place all over the country with the centre of celebration being Mihintale near Anuradhapura where Arahat Maha Mahinda, the son of King Asoka (Emperor of India) converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism.
Esala Perehara in Kandy (July – August)
Esala Perehara is celebrated in Kandy to honour the Sacred Tooth Relic and is one of the most spectacular Buddhist festivals of Sri Lanka. Featuring dancers, jugglers, musicians, acrobats and various other performers accompanied by lavishly decorated elephants, the 10 or 11 day celebrations witness one of the most colourful cultural processions in the world.
Please contact our Sri Lanka experts on 020 7873 5000 if you are interested in visiting Sri Lanka during these lavish celebrations. Or explore our luxury Sri Lanka holidays.