Enchanting Tusker | Kandy Perahera Elephant Will Blow Your Mind!

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kandy perahera elephant

We can see Elephants in Sri Lanka during Buddhist ceremonial processions called peraheras. The purpose of these gatherings is to pay gratitude to the Buddha, and tuskers are especially important. Elephants carrying Buddha’s relics, including cultural artists, drummers, and dancers, are part of the perahera ritual. The quantity and variety of the elephants and performers determines the caliber of the procession. The Buddha’s Tooth Relic is honored in this procession, a part of the yearly Kandy Esala Pahera. Old writings give political and religious histories, although they need to provide more in-depth explanations of specific occasions, such as Perahera festivities. The use of elephants in modern peraheras is a beloved custom deeply rooted in Sri Lanka’s religious and cultural heritage. Here, we are going to unveil the Kandy Perahera elephant in this article.

Buddhist festivals utilize elephants, although some authors attribute their origins to the Dalada Perahera in eighteenth-century CE Kandy.

kandy perahera elephant

Buddhism and Elephant in History | Kandy Perahera elephant

Asian elephants have a special place in cultural history. They are considered lucky animals and have played various roles throughout history, including being used as beasts of burden, in armies, and as trade goods. Since the sixth or fifth century BCE, people have associated elephants with Buddhism. Elephants have involved in stories concerning the life of Buddha, much as they are in the story of Prince Siddhartha. Buddha even assumes the appearance of an elephant multiple times in Jataka tales that describe his past births. 

Though the Buddha banned eating elephant meat, it was still occasionally practiced in ancient times. During the reign of King Ashoka (272–232) in India, elephants symbolized religion and the Buddha. The relationship between the Buddha’s relics and the ‘war of relics’ is shown in art and architecture in India and Sri Lanka. In ancient Sri Lankan temples, decorative elements such as moonstones, guard stones, building entrances, and protective walls featured elephants. This lasting relationship emphasizes how essential elephants are to the region’s Buddhist culture and history.

Tooth Relic and Perahera 

The Tooth Relic of the Buddha arrived in Sri Lanka in the ninth year of King Kitsirimevan’s rule and was highly respected. The Tooth Relic was brought to the Abhayagiri Temple by King Kitsirimevan. King Kitsisrimevan was the king who started the annual celebration known as the perahera.

kandy perahera elephant

Sinhalese kings considered the tooth relic crucial for protection, leading them to celebrate and make offerings, as recorded in historical accounts. The art and architecture of the Temple of the Tooth Relic have had a long association with elephants. It enriched the cultural traditions and history of the Tooth Relic.

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Elephants in Kandy period

During colonial administration over coastal regions, Sri Lanka’s capital was Kandy from 1593 until 1815. Elephant gifts to temples and the start of the Kandyan Esala Perahera were among the religious rituals that elephants were essential to at this time. 

King Vijaya Rajasingha offered elephants to temples several times. He once presented an elephant and a horse during a sacrificial festival honoring the Tooth Relic. King Kirti Sri Rajasingha offered elephants, horses, gold, and silver as a form of respect for the Anuradhapura stupas and the Bodhi tree. In addition, he gave elephants and other objects to the Temple of Tooth Relic.

Kandy perahera elephant

Historical evidence indicates that this is a continuation of a lengthy history despite the fact that some trace it to the origins of Dalada Perahera. Elephants were historically used in the procession before Kirti Sri Rajasingha’s era, as evidenced by recent archaeological findings from the Temple of the Tooth Relic, including a painting on an old plaster layer that dates back to King Narendrasingha’s rule and may show a Dalada Perahera scene.

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Wrapping Up

The annual Esala Perahera event focuses on the majestic Kandy Perahera Elephant, an important symbol in Sri Lankan culture. It leads a magnificent procession while wearing magnificent costumes, representing the rich, religious, and historical traditions of Kandy. This beautiful elephant attracts visitors and adds magnificence to the lively festivities.

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