The island nation of Sri Lanka with the shape of a tear drop on the thundering waves of the mighty Indian Ocean is a sort of a museum with a collection of various different entities. On one hand, a traveler is spell bound by the unmatched natural beauty with forests, hills, beaches and numerous heritage sites; whereas on the other, you can not get enough of the colorful repertoire of cultural tokens, traditional rituals and religious bequests.
The natural landscapes of the nation is something a traveller can visit any time. But if you don't get a taste of the ethnic flavour, you won't be able to relish the beauty and majesty of anything you do or see in Sri Lanka. And what can better your vacation than a traditional festival which brings out the true, hidden and unseen colours of the country!
Being the home to the four major religious faiths, Sri Lankan festival calender is very much diversified and florid. The nation witnesses the heartfelt celebration of all these festivals across the year by the respective communities that includes Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslims.
Major Buddhist Festivals:
Duruthu: Every year, the full moon day in the month of January sees the wholesome observation of the Duruthu festival in Kelaniya, located at 10 km from Colombo. This three nights long gala with huge processions where elephants, dancers and drummers entertain the onlookers is celebrated to mark the maiden visit of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka.
Vesak: The month of May comes with the most significant festival in Buddhism in Sri Lanka as well as for the Buddhist all over the globe. Celebrated with honor and devotion, this full moon day commemorates the birth, illumination and salvation of Lord Buddha. The people of Sri Lanka decorate their houses with the unique Vesak lanterns and other electric lights apart from going to the worship places to say prayers. The towns and cities are covered with temporary tents with sparkling lighting arrangements with a free meal service.
Poson: The rigorous celebration of this festival can be seen in one of the most significant places in Sri Lanka- Anuradhapura. On this auspicious day in the moth of June, Buddhism was first introduced in Sri Lanka by Arahat Mahinda. Massive and attractive processions is the signature of Poson festival.
Esala: Observed in a magnanimous manner that runs for ten straight days, Esala is at its best in Kandy, a major city and a tourist hub. Like other festivals in Sri Lanka, Esala is also familiar to large colorful processions. Being an ancient gala that goes back to 3rd century BC, Esala draws the real flavor of the island nation.
Major Hindu Celebrations:
Thai Pongal: Essentially a Hindu festival, Pongal is harvest fiesta that is observed to pay respect and gratitude to the Sun God. The Hindu temples assume a joyous appearance during the celebration with herds of devotees crowding it for prayers. Keeping accordance with the meaning of the word 'pongal' in Tamil meaning 'to boil over', a special dish is prepared with rice boiled with sweetened milk. Subsequently, it is taken as the divine food from the deity.
Perahera: Centered round the Warrior God, Skandha, Perahera is best celebrated in Katarangama in the eastern part of Sri Lanka. Running through two weeks, this gala event is marked by processions in the month of July/August every year. The traveller can not help wonder at the fire walking act by the devotees to please the god.
Deepavali: Like it is observed in a grand way in India, the Hindu community in Sri Lanka also leaves no stone unturned to make sure that it carries the equal charm. They illuminate their houses with oil lamps and lanterns to welcome Goddess Lakshmi, the wealth deity.
Prominent Christian days:
The two most significant festivals in Christianity- Christmas and Easter, are held every year with pomp gaiety and brotherhood.
The note worthy Islam festivals in Sri Lanka are Milad-un-Nabi, Id-ul-Fitr, Haj and Eid-ul-Azha.
The peaceful co-existence of all the aforementioned communities facilitate the uninterrupted celebration of their respective festivals. In that process, they are contributing immensely to the cultural canvass of Sri Lanka. Try to plan out a vacation around some of these festivities and enhance your existing concept of holidaying.