Monday, June 15, 2009

Sri Lanka Elephants and Festivals

Sri Lanka Elephants 

Esala Perahera Festival

Each year the legendary ceremony “Perehara Festival” captures Kandy the hill capital of Sri Lanka for some special 10 days in August. Visitors from all over Sri Lanka and tourists from many countries are flooding the city in order to see up to over 100 Elephants, dancers and musicians.

For two weeks at the end of July and in to the first few days of august, the hill town of Kandy is transformed to the way it was before it fell to the British in 1815. Elephants parade the street at night colorfully dressed, officials and chieftains wear traditional costume and dancers leap to the timeless rhythm of the drums. It is known as one of the world's grandest and most spectacular street parades.

It is the time of the Kandy Esala Perahera when people give thanks in song, dance and pageantry for a bountiful harvest. Esala also signifies man's strength and velour in having conquered and tamed the wild elephant.

The significance of this perahera dates to 310 AD when the tooth relic of Lord Buddha was brought from India. Before then, there was an annual procession to pay tribute for the harvest and to ask the gods for sufficient water for the next crop. Asking for water is still the main reason for the Esala Perahera and it is way the chief lay official of the temple of the Tooth is called the “Diyawadana Nilame” for diya is the sinhala for water. The last ritual of the perahera is the water cutting ceremony.

Colombo Zoo

After seeing an elephant in the wild, seeing one in the zoo may seem a little un-inspiring, however the elephant show is one for the children. The Colombo Zoo is famous for its elephant shows, which feature six Sri Lankan elephants doing all manner of tricks, from playing the harmonica to shooting basketball hoops with their trunks.
The Dehiwala Zoo is one of the finest in Asia and its sprawling areas are host to a variety of animals and birds. Drive 6 miles from Colombo, south along the Galle Road. Turn left at Allen Avenue, Dehiwala, and follow the signposts.

It is pleasing to see many animals in their natural habitat. Whether it be lions, bears, tigers, rhinos, giraffes or gorillas, there is a greater freedom here than in many zoos around the world. The sight of painted storks fishing in the pond or screeching macaws ruffling their bright feathers immediately puts any visitor at ease.

The highlight of the zoo is the elephant circus which comes on daily at 5.15 pm, with extra shows on Sunday and holidays at 3.15pm. The huge pachyderms perform all sorts of antics like standing on their heads, wiggling their backs to music, hopping on one foot and standing up on their hind legs.

When the biggest of the elephants begins to play a soundless mouth organ, the older elephants start skipping and trooping behind. There is an exciting moment when an elephant places a foot on the mahout's stomach and lifts him by the head using its mouth.
Visit Sri Lanka to enjoy these events.

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