As in many other countries, Christmas is a time of celebration. Sri Lanka is home for many Catholics and Christians. In the eve of the Christmas, the devoted attend the church masses. Shops are filled with Christmas decorations and a variety of crackers and Christmas decorations. You will hear the firecrackers on the Christmas evening especially exactly at midnight. The houses are filled with colourful Christmas decorations and Christmas trees are lit with beautiful lights. Although Christmas is celebrated mainly by the Catholics/Christians, many other non catholic/Christians also take a part in this lovely festival. Christmas cake, a variety of sweets and exchanging gifts is also another aspect when celebrating Christmas in Sri Lanka.
The Kandy Esala Perahera is a 10 day festival and celebrations honouring the sacred tooth relic of Lord Buddha, by having the sacred tooth relic paraded on elephant back along the streets of Kandy. This truly is a magnificent site to see as you unite with a crowd of people to enjoy the parade including elephants all dressed up in their colourful gear, Kandyan chiefs in their royal attire, thousands of dancers, drummers, flag bearers, and Buddhist monks, all walk in procession in honour of Lord Buddha.
The Kataragama Perehara is held in July to honour the warrior God of Kataragama. This colourful festival celebrates Hindu folklore, music, dance and fire walking and is offered in sacrifice and honour of God Kataragama.
Sinhalese and Tamil New Year
The Sinhala New Year is celebrated in April, as high importance is placed on agriculture, with rice being its main product. April is a month of harvest in Sri Lanka as rice is collected and the warm weather produces an abundance of seasonal fruits. This season is a time of celebrations as the people of Sri Lanka enjoy the fruits of their hard labour, hence seen as a perfect time to start the New Year!
The New Year is held according to an auspicious time which falls between the 12 and 15 of April every year. The ceremony is celebrated amongst the Sinhalese and the Tamils in a grand scale. It is also a ceremony that unites people. People in Sri Lanka firmly believe the start of the New Year is the beginning of a new journey and expect their wishes will come true.
It is a true festive season with many organised traditional games, plenty of fire crackers, some mouth watering sweets including the main food kiribath (milk rice) and visiting your neighbours, friends and family. On this day there’s an auspicious time for every aspect such as to study, to eat, to visit relatives and so on.
Vesak is a significant day for the Buddhist people and is a pivotal day in Sri Lanka. It commemorates three significant milestones in Lord Buddha’s lifetime: the birth of Buddha, him attaining Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana.
This is a day spent in reflective prayer while lanterns made from bamboo frames and covered in coloured paper are hung inside every home and incredible illuminated displays decorate the streets. Devoted Buddhists pray in temples from dawn until dusk, and then take part in processions as the sun sets, visiting the temples again in the evening to hear monks read stories from the Buddhist texts. Vesak is celebrated on the day of the full moon in May.