Peaceful beaches, Virgin rainforest walks, beautiful caves, wild waves, giant elephants, mighty whales, misty mountains and a bunch of festivals; all these things define Sri Lanka. If you are on the loose and fixing your gaze on the tour to Sri Lanka, this island offers benefits more than you can shake a stick at. We recommend to carry as less as possible with you, but in case you have luggage on you which is more than permitted by the airline you are travelling with, nothing is to worry about. Just go for a well reputed company that specialises in sending cargo to Sri Lanka and you are all set.
Be that as it may, if you are visiting Sri Lanka to enjoy the beautiful festivals, we have drawn up a list of top 20 most beautiful fairs and festivals in Sri Lanka that you shouldn’t miss out on. Let’s get into this:
1. Kandy Esala Perahera
The Esala Perahera festival is one of the ancient and largest Buddhist festivals of Sri Lanka. Being very grand event with stylish costumes and picturesque decoration, this festival is celebrated in July or August relied on the Full Moon Poya Day. Each year, thousands of pilgrims gather around the city to enjoy fire spinning, traditional outfits, jugglers, conventional dance and music, dancers, exquisitely ornamented elephants, whip performers, and so on. Just right in the block hole. This ritual lasts for ten days where a number of festivities can be spotted throughout its span. The term Perahera means a procession of dancers, musicians, singers, jugglers and several other performers keeping the company of massive number of beautifully decorated elephants parading the streets in order to celebrate the event. All these things make this event one of the most beautiful pageants in the Asia.
2. Sinhala and Tamil New Year
Sinhala and Tamil New Year symbolizes the beginning of the Lunar year. It takes place in April and the entire country is wrapped up in a joyous environment as people get ready for the forthcoming celebrations by cleaning and embellishing the houses, preparing traditional cuisines and sweets. Out of all the other fairs and festivals in Sri Lanka, Sinhala and Tamil New Year is celebrated with full zeal and zest. All the people put on new clothes and get their selves busy with several activities. All the government businesses are closed and the entire island celebrates the relaxed festivals. One can witness amazing friendly games, fireworks, lovely lightning inside out everywhere during the festival.
The best chapter of the story is that the people enjoy the first meal of New Year with their families. Happiness all around, just bang on. Exchanging sweets with neighbours, performing rituals and playing thrilling games down the streets is very common. Parents rub herbal oil on the children in order to give them blessings and wishes for the New Year. That’s awe-inspiring, isn’t it?
Mahashivratri, also called as “the Great Night of Shiva” is another festival celebrated in Sri Lanka. Basically, it is a religious festival of Hindus celebrated in the honour of Lord Shiva. Large number of pilgrims celebrate this festival across the island in the month of February with festivities and prayers. Devotees start their day with holy bath and devote their day in fasting and worshipping at several temples with music and ritual dancing. The statues of Lord Shiva are given bath in milk and honey and crusted in red vermillion to represent the sanctification of the soul. Celebrations are all over the country. Absolutely majestic.
4. Ramadan and Eid
Ramadan is the holy festival of cleansing and fasting. Muslims all around the country observe fast for the whole month with the intention of purify their souls. Ramadan starts with the first sighting of the new moon. There are a bunch of restaurants which offer special night-time menus for Muslims to let them break their fast. On the last day of Ramadan, Eid is the big celebration for all the Muslims and it is celebrated with whole heart.
Christmas is the festival observed on 25th December each year to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Apart from the fact that only nearly 20% of the population in Sri Lanka is Christian, Christmas is still a huge celebration in Sri Lanka. Every house, shop, mall, store and office is beautifully decorated with lovely lightings, Christmas trees and garlands. People gather around in Churches to celebrate the holy festival with sweets, drinks and cuisines.
Traditional Christmas cakes are prepared and exchanged, which are the richest cakes in the world to celebrate with full zeal. Whoa!
6. Deepavali / Diwali
Deepavali, commonly known as Diwali, is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated throughout the country. Diwali is the celebration of Lord Rama’s victory over Ravana representing the victory of light over darkness. Houses are decorated with slay lamps and buildings are illuminated in celebration. This festival lasts for five days but the last day is most important and big. Worshippers wear newly brought clothes and exchange gifts and sweets. Celebrations all around.
7. Vesak Poya
Vesak Poya is regarded as the most distinguished Buddhist festivals in Sri Lanka. Vesak Poya is observed in order to keep alive the memories of the three important milestones in Buddha’s life- his birth, enlightenment and nirvana. Celebrations get going on a full moon day and continue up to a whole week in the month of May. There are lightings of colourful lanterns called Vesak Kuudu all over the streets, representing the light of Buddha.
Vesak Day is amongst the biggest days of the year in Sri Lanka and Buddhists celebrate this festival with full enthusiasm. Decorations and colourful lightings can be witnessed everywhere on this big event.
8. Poson Poya
Poson Poya is regarded as the second most celebrated festival in Sri Lanka by the Buddhists. Basically, this festival is the celebration of Buddhism in Sri Lanka in 3rd century. On that account, Poson Poya has oldest historical importance in its hands apart from the religious significance.
This event is celebrated during the full moon in June each year. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Poson Poya is celebrated with the true spirit by the Buddhists all around the island. All the days during Poya are celebrated with huge zest but the main festivities for the Poson Poya are at Mihintale. All the days during Poya festival are celebrated wholeheartedly but the main festivities for Poson Poya are at Mihintale. The Mihintale is a mountain peak and it is considered to be the place of meeting between Buddhist monk Mahinda and King Devanampiyatissa.
9. Kataragama Festival
Kataragama festival is one of the most significant Hindu festival celebrated mainly in the Southern town of Kataragama, one of the sacred towns in Sri Lanka. Worshippers from around the globe visit the holy town over a two-week period. Kataragama festival is marked by traditional dance, musicians, drummers, elephants, jugglers and acrobats enacting on the beat of thundering drums and chanting beautifully adding to the religious fervour and festivities.
10. Vel Festival
Vel festival is celebrated in order to recall the victory of War-God Skandha over the evil forces and pay homage to his trident (Vel). There is no denying the fact that this festival is considered as the most important Hindu religious festival in Sri Lanka. The Vel is put in a big dazzling golden chariot and it is then pulled by the pilgrims with their faces smudged in holy ash along with a massive number of musicians, dancers and elephants in the sound of drums, divine songs and bells throughout the streets. That’s truly a mesmerizing scene.
11. Duruthu Perahera
Duruthu Perahera is one of the grandest and glorious festivals in Sri Lanka celebrated to mark the beginning of the Buddhist calendar in the month of Duruthu (January). All the devotees celebrate this festival with massive enthusiasm and tourist from around the globe visit Sri Lanka to enjoy the magnificent scenes on the final day of the aforementioned festival including elephants adorned with jewellery, singers, acrobats, drummers and so on.
12. Thai Pongal
Here comes another very important festival in Sri Lanka that is gloriously celebrated. People pay homage to the Sun God for a munificent harvest. Thai Pongal is celebrated for total three days beginning from the first day of Thai (10th month in Tamil Calendar).
The most distinguish part of this festival is that people draw kolams in the front yard of their houses using rice paste. The whole family takes part in festivities in order to pay tribute to the Sun God “Surya” as well as the cattle for helping in bringing a massive harvest.
13. Nallur Festival
The Nallur festival is another one of the most celebrated festivals in Sri Lanka. The festival is held in honour of Lord Murugan and it runs for 25 days, finishing on the Poya day in August.
People from Sri Lanka and all over the world visit the Nallur Kandaswamy Kovil temple at the beginning of this festival to seek the blessings from Lord Murugan. The pilgrims carry the gloriously dressed idol of Lord Murugan on a beautifully decorated silver throne around the town. For the entire period of 25 days, grand pujas and yajnas are arranged to worship and seek the blessings.
14. Medin Poya
Medin Poya falls in March each year and is celebrated to recall the return of Buddha to his father King Suddodhana for the first time. Often called as the “Samma Sambuddha”, this festival is another historic event and is celebrated with full heart in Sri Lanka. In Sri Lanka, it is national holiday and all the devotees visit temples with flowers to seek blessings from Dhamma. Truly inspiring, isn’t it?
15. Good Friday
Good Friday is a significant day in the Christian calendar. This festival is celebrated to look back on the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Despite of the fact the Christians in Sri Lanka are not in majority, still this festival is celebrated widely in Sri Lanka. Due to the whereabouts of this incredible island, you will find a lot of beautiful churches out there. Many followers of Christianity keep fast on this day to pay homage to Jesus Christ. Devotees visit Churches dressed in sober attires to memorize the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the people.
16. Nikini Poya
Nikini Poya falls during the month of August and it is the second Poya in the Vas season. This festival symbolise the first Dhamma Sangayana of Buddhist monks. All the worshippers of Buddha from around the Sri Lanka visit the temples with the offerings of flower in order to seek peace and blessings. Nikini Poya is indeed a fantastic experience in itself and surely not to be missed.
17. Hajj Festival or Eid-ul-Adha
Eid-ul-Adha is a widely celebrated festival by Muslims the all over the world. As Muslims are also living in Sri Lanka, so Eid-ul-Adha is widely celebrated throughout the country. This festival is celebrated by the Muslims to remember the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH). In this regard, Muslims also sacrifice animals in order to pay honour to the Prophet and seek blessings. All the family members wear newly brought clothes and visit relatives and neighbours. After slaughtering the animals, meat is distributed among the poor and needy to enable them join the celebrations.
18. Binara Poya
The festival is regarded as one of the most celebrated festivals in Sri Lanka. It usually falls in September. This festival is celebrated by all the devotees to commemorate the foundation of the Bhikkuni Sasanaya. One of the most distinguished features of this festival is the Wannila Aththi ‘Veddha People’ dance that is put on by pilgrims. That’s mid-boggling to be witnessed.
19. Vap Poya
Vap Poya is another very important festival celebrated by Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It is observed by Buddhist to mark the end of the three months retreat in the rainy season. Vap Poya usually falls in the month of October and is the public holiday in Sri Lanka. This is the span during which Buddhist monks stay indoors in their monasteries. Worshippers from around the country visit temples with the offerings of flowers to seek blessings. Sale of meats and alcohol is forbidden in the country throughout the Vap Poya span.
20. Unduvap Poya
Unduvap Poya is the last Full Moon Poya day of the Buddhist calendar and is celebrated in the memory of the arrival of Sangamitta Theri in Sri Lanka. Thousands of pilgrims pay honour to the sacred Bo tree and observe the five precepts to live exemplary lives. One of the key features of Unduvap Poya is the Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada and this pilgrimage is one of the fundamental part of every Buddhist’s spiritual journey. For this case, they visit this place to seek blessings.