Sunday, February 28, 2010

Nawam Maha Perahera aka The Big Elephant Festival

The end of February brings the big elephant festival to town. The elephants are walked down "elephant pass" (Kandy Road) from Kandy, this is about a two week journey for the elephants. I happened to have seen one the elephants taking this journey with its handlers. Along with the elephants the tooth of the holy prophet (Buddha) is also brought down, this is a pretty big deal here.

Having a fairly good idea but not knowing exactly where the festival was taking place we left the apartment. By chance we bumped into our neighbor who gave us some round about directions to the festival and we were on our way.

I was expecting to see crowds of people walking towards the festival and no trishaws to be found, but neither was the case, no crowds of people flowing in any one direction and if we needed a trishaw it was just a matter of hailing one.

After a good walk we reached a point where we needed directions, one trishaw driver told us we were in the wrong part of town and another trishaw driver told us to turn right on the street we were approaching which we did.

As we walked down the road we could see the walls of a stadium and voices over a loudspeaker, could this be it? We were able to sneak a look inside the stadium, no, this wasn't it, that and there were to be seats for one million people!

We followed a curve around a bend when I could see trees with lights, police and lots of Buddhist flags, I think we found in.

As we got closer I could see lots of seat cushions lining the streets, thus one millions seats. Wish I had taken a picture.

We walked a bit further and we could see makeshift viewing stands, the word "Tourists" was painted in the ground. Someone from work mentioned there was VIP seating, we wondered how we could get a seat there, so Chris asked one of the attendants, he walked us over to one of the other viewing stands and there one of the attendants asked us for tickets, Chris told the attendant that we were with "The company" to which the attendant gladly escorted us to another viewing stand, the best seats in the house complete with red carpet and a roof! Also there was just a handful of people there so we sat in the front row. Later we were joined by other people from work.

The elephant that carried the tooth was wearing this big Elvis outfit, lighted and everything.
The parade went on for almost two hours. Dancers then an elephant, each elephant had its own unique dance or acrobatic troupe. Wish I could go on about any particular one but it did begin to turn into one big blur after awhile. All in all glad I went though.

Note: It was difficult to take pictures in the dark, some turned out all right, others not so well. I will upload them and the videos (Turned out better) and post the links.

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