Thursday, 17 February 2011

Navam Maha Perahera - A remarkable pageant in Sri Lanka tonight.

Ablai, my 11 year old boy, and I went out early evening to watch the The Navam Maha Perahera, a colourful, bright and drum and trumpet led pageant, which  is  held anually in February, and displays the rich religious and cultural tradition of Sri Lanka. Hundreds of monks Navam clad in colouful robes solemnly walking in the procession are a unique sight. Youth clad in white carrying Buddhist flags march in front. Sacred relics housed in a casket are carried by a majestic elephant on its back. Dancers display the different types of dances prevalent in different parts of the country. So are the drummers who exhibit their skill in handling numerous forms of drums. This year, all the money and food given to the temple will go to assist those affected by floods in Sri Lanka.

About 100 decorated elephants were in the parade some bedecked with covers with delicate embroidery and precious stones and others, such as the one below, in a simple blue cover.


Gangarama temple. People come early to get the best viewing places.

The Perehara revives the ancient forms drawing dancing troupes from all parts of the country and providing an occasion to display their prowess.

The beneficiaries of events such as these are the traditional Dance Troupes, who now enjoy a revival of interest in their dance and forms of entertainment. The Perehera thus has a direct relevance to the preservation of  ancient Sri Lankan Cultural Heritage. The entire organization of the Perahera is handled by the young people associated with the "Gangaramaya' Temple. The Perahera was first started in the year 1979.






In Sri Lanka the Colombo Nawam Maha Perahera takes pride of place. In the Buddhist World no country can claim to have held such a Colorful, Cultural Pageant. Gangaramaya of Colombo.2, attends to the organizing work. The Flags, Banners and Decorations used for this Event are available for use for similar events in other parts of the island.




The lead Elephant waits in the temple for the procession to begin.










Raising funds for flood victimsflood victims

By Ven. Galaboda Siri Gnanissara Thera (Podi Hamuduruwo of Gangarama Temple)
In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the Central Bank complex in 1996 it was decided to divert all contributions received for the Navam Perahera to the families of the victims of the destruction. Accordingly the funds were handed over to the then minister in charge, the late Mr Lakshman Jayakody and the usual Perahera was held as a Mal

This year, having considered the plight of those who lost everything they possessed due to the recent floods and other natural disasters in the North East, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Batticaloa, it is decided to allocate a part of the contributions received for the Perahera to provide assistance to the needy in these areas. The Perahera however will be held as usual.

The Gangaramaya is now in the process of receiving large quantities of dry rations and other items for distribution among the flood victims.
The unforeseen climatic changes that prevailed recently all over the world had a heavy toll on Sri Lanka too.
The displaced persons owing to floods and landslides need immediate assistance. It is our belief that the distribution of essential items and other needs could be successfully handled by the Buddhist temples and other religious centres based in those localities. The dedication of every individual is important. Our countrymen have always been in the forefront whenever a situation of this magnitude arose and their caring and sharing had never been wanting.



As the procession moved towards my apartment, I folowed them, caught these happy dancers.




Looking from the 8th floor of my apartment building to a cavalcade of dancers and elephants slowly winding their way through the city.

All photos above taken by Bob McKerrow and are copyright.

44 comments:

Anjana (Gudia) said...

Thanks for refreshing my memories! I remember standing by the road with Joe and my son to watch this great and colorful event. Nice post :-)

Bob McKerrow said...

Good to hear from you and happy it brought back memories. A wondefil event.

Denis said...

Well described Bob, the one in Kandy is also quite special and worth the trip.

Bob McKerrow said...

Thanks for dropping by Denis.

I haven't seen the Kandy one so something to look forward to.

Anonymous said...

The Kandy Asala Perahara (Pageant)takes to the streets in August. You better book now because its going to be jam packed by that time. In the Kandy festival they take out the tooth relic of Buddha. In ancient times who ever has secured the tooth relic is King. So if you want to be the king of the country you need to acquire the tooth relic. It is said in ancient folk tale that when ever you shake the tooth relic it will rain cats and dogs. In ancient times they did this during times of droughts in order to get rain. Even in present times the belief continues to flame the minds of Buddhists.

Anonymous said...

I like picture for the parade if can post more pictures for the whole event taken. That will help to understand about perahara.

Bob McKerrow said...

Thanks to the two annonymous writers. To the first, thanks for your comemnts. Much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I also like the picture , if more picture it will the best posting
Under this perahera parade.

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