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Do not miss special seasonal events and include them in your tailor-made itinerary if applicable.
Pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Sri Pada or Adam’s Peak – December to April
From December to April, thousands of pilgrims from different denominations climb Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada – at its summit the Buddhists claim there is the footprint of Buddha, for Christians it is that of St. Thomas, for Hindus of Shiva and for Muslims of Adam – legend has it that Adam and Eve took refuge on top of this 2,600m high mountain after being expelled from paradise. The climb takes place at night to reach the peak at dawn.
Galle Literary Festival – January
Thai Pongal Festival in Kaleniya – January
In January, the god Sun is honoured at the Thai Pongal. The first large procession takes place during the Duruthu Festival which commemorates the visit of Buddha to Kelaniya, close to Colombo, the capital.
Gangarama Festival (Colombo) – February
The Navam Perahera, is held every year in February, with elephants carrying relics, drums echoing through the air and dances from various parts of the island that fill the streets with colour.
Sinhalese and Tamil New Year (Aluth Awurudu or Puththandu) -By Mid April
It marks the end of the harvest season. Cultural rituals begin shortly after starting the New Year (the time is determined by astrological calculations and therefore it changes every year) the cleaning of the house and lighting of an oil lamp. Families celebrate a number of rituals that are also determined carefully by astrological calculations – from lighting the fire to the preparation of kiribath (milk rice). Astrology also determines the colour of clothing to wear on that day or what time work should begin after the holiday.
Vesak – May
Vesak is held on the full moon day of May, and commemorates Buddha’s birth and passing away attaining Nibbana. The houses and streets across the country are lit with paper lanterns featuring a pretty sight at sunset.
Buddhist Film Festival – Vesak
Pilgrimage to Anuradhapura and Mihintale-June
June sees the poson, a festival which celebrates the arrival of Buddhism in the country. Many pilgrims head for the temples of Mihintale and Anuradhapura, whose streets are decorated and illuminated.
Kataragama Festival – July-August
Kataragama where the Hindu god Skanda or Murugan in Tamil presumably met and married a girl from a local tribe, Valli, of Veddah origin is revered equally by Sinhalese Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Veddah people. The Kataragama temple festival is celebrated during the months of July and August. During the processions that take place devotees in a state of trance walk on fire or suspended in the air hang from hooks piercing through their skin.
Kandy Esala Perahera – August
In Kandy, some days before and on full moon day, the Esala Perahera, the most famous and lively procession, especially on the last night, is held. From four shrines, relics and deities head for Kandy, accompanied by over a hundred beautifully decorated elephants, while musicians, acrobats and dancers in silver headdresses, earrings, belts and pectorals with jewels follow the insistent rhythm and fast music especially of thousands of bera, drums, echoing throughout the city. A large elephant carries the only the casket in which you the tooth of Buddha is supposed to be – the actual tooth never leaves its dagoba.
Pilgrimage to Madhu Church
The Madhu Festival takes place on August 15th with a grand procession to this church in the north of the country in honour of Virgin Mary.
Diwali or Deepavali – October – November
In October-November, the Hindu festival of lights, Deepavali, is held.
Unduvapa Poya Festival in Anuradhapura – December
Festival held to commemorate two events, the day Theria Sangamitta came from India to establish the order of Buddhist nuns (Bhikkhuni Sangha) and the fact that she brought with her a sapling from the sacred Bo tree in Bodh Gaya under which Buddha achieved enlightenment and planted it in Anuradhapura.
When you request a tour, we will always inform you if your trip coincides with any of the above events or others, to see whether you are interested in including such an event in your itinerary
Contact us and together we will design an unforgettable and exclusive tailor-made tour or excursion.
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