Sri Lanka’s has numerous festivals year around that relates to the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Christian religions.
The festivals do interest tourists for the different rituals that are part of them. Further, every full moon day in Sri Lanka is a public holiday known as poya. The most important is in May – Vesak Poya – which marks the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and Pariniwana (passing away). Tourist will find the illuminated pandals (bamboo frameworks) during poya that are with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha.
Sri Lanka’s most tourist-oriented festival is the Kandy Esala Perahera, held in Kandy over 10 days in late July to early August and climaxing on Esala Poya. Perahera means “procession” and that’s exactly what occurs nightly – a magical passing-by of drummers, dancers, whip-crackers, acrobats and robed elephants. A caparisoned tusker carries the reason for the festival, the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha for the people to venerate.
Hindu festivals include Vel, held in Colombo in July, in which God Skanda’s silver-plated chariot and vel (spear) are paraded across the city. Another important Hindu festival in Sri Lanka is Kataragama Festival in the deep south, also connected with Skanda, in which fire-walkers participate.