Esala Festival a True Sri Lankan Cultural Experience
Whether you are staying in the Bentota Beach Hotel or at one of the Saman Villas, one thing you should not miss during your Sri Lankan holiday is the Esala Festival. Held annually at the Kataragama Shrine situated in the southern jungles of the country, this festival lasts for two weeks and honours the Kataragama God. The festival attracts many tourists, and is famous for devotees walking over burning hot coals. If you will be in Sri Lanka during this festival, you may want to add this trip to Kataragama in to your itineray.
Esala Festival Basics for Tourists
Though it is a religious festival, Esala is also a cultural celebration. The festivities transform the already picturesque jungle into a decorated venue, with the first night involving a traditional flag-hoisting ceremony. The subsequent nights feature puja, a ritual held nightly in which Kapurala shaman priests perform a dance depicting the Kataragama God emerging from Maha Devale. Devotees from all over Sri Lanka attend this festival dressed in dhotis and ceremonial make-up, balancing vessels on their heads.
Tourists that have attended the Esala Festival return home with a sense of cultural expansion that they may not have otherwise experienced. The end of the festival may be the most interesting to visitors as it features the water-cutting ceremony that lasts through the night. It is the end of the festival that many tourists love to see - cleansed pilgrims walking over the burning coals and ash of the tamarind firewood without being burned.
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