Sri Lanka is a land of continuous colourful celebrations. The fact that there is acceptance and respect between the many ethnicities, religions and cultures in the island means that there is an endless list of festivals and events throughout the year! Here are three of the most popular annual festivals, processions and pilgrimages in Sri Lanka:
Vesak - May Full Moon
Considered the holiest day of the year for Buddhists, Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment and passing away of Lord Buddha. Thousands of oil lamps are lit in temples, paper lanterns are put up in homes and massive paintings depicting Buddhist stories are displayed in town centres. Another highlight of this festival is free food - temporary stalls are set up in almost every neighbourhood, giving out food and drinks for all.
The Kandy Esala Perahera - July/August
This colourful religious procession takes place in the narrow streets of Kandy annually. The highlight of this procession is the host of brilliantly decorated elephants - the largest of which carries a replica of the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha, as well as the thousands of Kandyan drummers, dancers and officials making their way through the streets.
Sri Pada (Adam's Peak) Pilgrimage - Between November to May
Thousands of devotees from all four major religions in Sri Lanka ascend 7000 feet to the summit of Sri Pada, to pay homage to the impression of a gigantic footprint atop the mountain. Buddhists believe that the sacred footprint is Lord Buddha's, the Hindu's think it is that of Shiva, and the Muslims and Christians believe it is where Adam first set foot after being exiled from the Garden of Eden. Visitors can scale the mountain and enjoy gorgeous views, especially of the sunrise.