If you've been following this blog, then you know I attended last year with friends. I wrote two long blog posts, which you can read in Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 1 (gives an overview of my travel experience including the journey (to-and-from Kandy), logistics and what I did to prepare) and Travel Monday: Blessings from Kandy Esala Perahera August 2013 - Part 2 (my thoughts, information gathering and experience of the actual Kandy Perahera). I don't wish to rehash what I blogged last year, but if you're interested in the "ins-n-outs" of the Kandy Esala Perahera, I suggest having a read of these two blog posts.
I didn't bring my DSLR to take photos and videos. Last year I made a concerted effort to take photos and videos. So, this year I decided to travel light without toting my big camera and only arrived at Sri Dalada Maligawa around 5.30pm. I know many people had arrived much earlier in the day to find places, seats and spots with a good vantage of the Randoli Perahera. I was again lucky to be able to tag along with friends who had VIP tickets with seats within the Sri Dalada Maligawa perimeter with light refreshments served.
This year has been interesting in that I've been trying out Kandy as a potential longer term residence (as opposed to Colombo where I've been based for most of the past six years). So I've had the opportunity to become a little more familiar with the town and Sri Dalada Maligawa. Therefore, I took my time around the temple grounds to take in the preparations before going into the enclosed perimeter where they had set out the big tents with all the seating.
This year it definitely felt like there were more tuskers than what I saw last year. Some friends mentioned there was an incident involving firewith four of the tuskers on Wednesday evening's Randoli Perahera that caused a few hair-raising moments. As a result, on Esala poya I could hear announcements being made over the loudspeakers to warn attendees of the potential dangers around the tuskers and to remain quite still without screaming if the tuskers were to get agitated. Luckily, nothing out of the ordinary happened on poya.
Perahera usually depends on the calculation of a number of auspicious times for various things to be undertaken and for the actual Perahera to commence.
In fact, the Randoli Perahera commenced quite late on poya at around +/- 8.30pm.
The Buddha's Tooth Relic came out on the main tusker about halfway through the Randoli Perahera.
Once it began, it lasted for at least three and a half hours till the first of the performers returned to the start of the Perahera route. It was probably another few hours for it to fully conclude.
I left Sri Dalada Maligawa at around midnight when security opened the various exits to allow people to depart the venue. Up until this point you couldn't leave from anywhere within the Randoli Perahera route.
My eyes were a little tired by the end of Randoli Perahera, but overall I felt quite light and happy. All in all, a lovely way to spend Esala Poya.