Home » Destinations » Esala Perahera The Buddhist’s Mardi Gras: Travel Sri Lanka


The Esala Perahera procession is a celebration of Sri Lankan Buddhism. Very similar to Mardi Gras but without as much sin and more tradition, the main focus of the celebration is the Sacred Tooth Relic. This tooth was smuggled from India to Sri Lanka nearly 1,700 years ago because it is believed that it is the last surviving bit of the Buddha after he was cremated. The festival dates are set by the lunar calendar and lasts for 11 days.

There are many exciting things to see in the procession like most parades, but much like the way Americans use antique and classic cars to decorate and carry important officials through the crowds; in Sri Lanka they use elephants which is a sight to behold. In addition to carrying important Buddhist monks and temple luminaries on their backs, they are dressed and adorned with the finest fabrics and jewels including masks sometimes.

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