Nawam Perahera which is one of few spectacular cultural events that brings Colombo City alive is to be held on 18th and 19th February, the full moon Poya Day this year.
Nawam Maha Perahera happens to be one of the most colorful and prestigious Buddhist cultural pageant held in Sri Lanka. Nawam Maha Perahera is celebrated once in a year. Nawam Maha Perahera is one of the most important religious and cultural events in Sri Lanka. Millions of people witness this Nawam Maha Perahera event every year including an estimated 10,000 tourists who land in Colombo during Nawam Maha Perahera event. Nawam Maha Perahera is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of February.
The highlight of this festival is the colorful elephant pageant when the streets of Colombo transform under the weight of 100 decorated elephants. The Gangaramaya Temple, located at Hunupitiya by picturesque Beira Lake is the venue of Nawam Maha Perahera festival where all the action takes place. The inaugural parade is attended by over 1000 performers and school children who wave colorful flags on the way. Giving a befitting company to the procession, there is percussion bands, conch shell blowers, stilt-walkers, flutists and drummers who fill the air with sound and music.
Navam Perahera of Gangarama which attracts more than millions of both local and foreign spectators to Gangarama Temple in Colombo will be held on 18th and ending on full moon poya day 19th of February.
The procession is generally held every year since 1979 with more than thousand performers including kas karayas (person who crack whip in the air) percussion bands, conch shell blowers, drummers, flautists and stilt-walkers displaying their talents mixed up to rich religious and cultural traditions in Sri Lanka.
Perehara will also comprise of dance troupes from up country dancers, low country dancers an Sabaragamuwa dancers with their own style of dancing. Wes natum or Devil dance and Raban (Timbrel) are among the cultural mélange of dances.
The caparisoned tuskers and elephants illuminated with colourful bulbs are major attractions of perehara and the arrival of grand tusker carrying the relic casket is a symbolic presence in Perehara today.
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The month of February draws an unusual crowd to Colombo’s threshold from across Sri Lanka. The heart of Colombo and the Gangaramaya Temple bustle with activities in preparation for one of the main cultural celebrations that take place in Colombo. Majestic elephants along with their caretakers arrive from locations across Sri Lanka for a pageant that travellers from abroad visit Sri Lanka to see.
A flamboyant event that serenades visitors to Colombo’s iconic Gangaramaya Temple, the Navam Perahera is an event looked forward to by many for its religious and cultural significance as well as its festive exuberance. To be held on two consecutive days including the full moon Poya Day, Navam Perahera is known to be one of the most impressive and culturally significant Peraheras of Sri Lanka.
Close upon the Navam Full Moon Poya Day Gangaramaya Temple stands majestically adorned with lights and colourful decoration beside the Beira Lake bearing the silvery reflection of the full moon that graces Sri Lanka. The city of Colombo comes alive with melodious rhythms of percussion and a myriad of other performances including fire dancers, acrobats and elephants without whom a Sri Lankan Perahera cannot take place.
This jubilant festival holds special significance for those who practice Buddhism. It is on the Navam Full Moon Poya Day that they commemorate the appointment of the two chief disciples of Lord Buddha and the appointment of the first Buddhist Council where Lord Buddha announced the code of fundamental ethical precepts for the monks during the Council and predicted his Parinibbana (death).
A sight to behold, Navam Perahera, hosted in remembrance of these significant occurrences features caparisoned elephants adorned in opulent regalia, flag bearers representing various regions of the island and various ceremonial dance groups. From dancers masked in colourful devil masks to folk dancers, these artists perform traditional dance forms unique to various districts of Sri Lanka.
Taking centre stage at the Navam Perahera are the Nilames adorned in age-old traditional attire that was worn only by the nobility of Sri Lanka. Escorted by their attendees, these Nilames bear sacred relics with great reverence. Performances of each group of drummers at the Navam Perehara are distinctive in its own style and in the instruments they use. The Ves dancers who perform alongside the Kandyan drummers are known for their extravagant costumes known as the Ves Costume. Keeping with tradition that has come down from generation to generation, those who clad themselves in the Ves costume do so in a ceremony known as the Ves Mangalaya.
Adding to this cultural extravaganza are the glorious fire-eaters who perform dances with fire, juggling and twirling them, stilt-walkers and other acrobats. This Perahera is known to gather thousands of milling spectators, awaiting to witness this unique cultural celebration exclusive to Sri Lanka.
A cultural celebration that sets ablaze the city of Colombo, the Navam Perahera is a monumental event in Sri Lanka’s calendar. This year celebration will be no less grand than its predecessor. Witness the traditional drummers adorned in their vibrant red costumes that sets the tone to the Perahera and experience the echoes of its merriment resounding through the city of Colombo.
Foreigners who would like to observe this Perahera from the best vantage should arrive at Gangaramaya Temple 30 minutes prior to the event to purchase their tickets. Owing to the heavy flow of excited spectators crowding in to watch the Perahera, it is advisable to arrive well in advance of the time of commencement to secure a seat that will allow an uninterrupted view of the proceedings.