Friday, February 26, 2016

Sri Lanka - Part 22 - Nawan Maha Perahera

Monday, 22 February 2016

Every "poya" day (full moon day) is a holiday in Sri Lanka. All government offices, banks, and most stores are closed for the day. Alcohol is not sold or served. Many Buddhists spend the full day in the temple.

Once a year, many temples, especially the larger ones, perform a "perahera" on poya day. This is a large, elaborate procession with monks, dancers, bands, and elephants. The local temple relic and statues of Lord Buddha are also part of the procession.

This year the Nawam Maha Perahera, put on by the Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo, was on our last day in Sri Lanka. The Perahera route was very close to our hotel, so we were encouraged to go see the procession before leaving for the airport just after midnight.

We took a walk in the afternoon and came across the elephants that would be in the procession -- and all the chairs set up for "VIP" visitors.
Some elephants were relaxing in the shade.
The Perahera was scheduled to start at 7:00. We got a spot on the sidewalk near the beginning of the Perahera route, and the start of the parade passed us about 8:45. We watched until 10:00; then we had to walk back to our hotel and prepare for our flight. I wish we could have stayed until the end.

The Perahera mostly takes place along the streets surrounding the Gangarama Lake.
These photos were taken at night with an iPhone. So don't expect crystal clear photos -- the dancers were usually moving very fast!

I'll start with photos of some of the dancers and musicians. We were amazed that a dance troupe could dance to their drums and not the drums of the units ahead and behind them.




Most units had an elephant between them and the next. They were covered with shimmering costumes. In the hour and a quarter we watched, we saw 26 elephants. Here's a sampling:











"Horn OK Please" is going back on hiatus until we return to exotic locales in 2017.

I'll be returning to my U.S. blog, "No Turn On Red".

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