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Thai Pongal  Thai Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival. Thai Pongal is celebrated over four days, usually  spanning January 13 to 16 in the Gregorian calendar. This corresponds to the last day of the  Tamil month Maargazhi to the third day of the Tamil month Thai  Kelaniya - Duruthu Perehera   All Buddhist religious festivals follow the Buddhist Nirvana Calendar. Thus the month of January  is known as ‘Duruthu’, ending on the day of the waxing moon. The Full Moon day is a public  holiday in Sri Lanka, a fact you should note while on your Sri Lanka holiday. Liquor shops, Bars  and Pubs are closed on such days, including those in your Sri Lanka Holiday resort.    The Duruthu Perehera or Procession celebrates the first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka in  January at the sacred temple of Kelaniya near Colombo attracting hundreds of thousands of  devotees and visitors. The colourful pageant comprising of caparisoned elephants, along with  dancers, drummers, and musicians playing traditional wind instruments begun with the firing of  cannon. The Randoli Perehera, the magnificent finale, is held the day prior to the January full  moon.  Colombo - Navam Perehara   The Navam Perehara which culminates on the February full moon is a spectacle that has the  certain participation of more than 100 caparisoned elephants brought from all over the island.  Since 1979 (the year it was first held) the Navam Maha Perahera has attracted nearly a million  spectators to the Gangaramaya Temple, at Hunupitiya, Colombo that overlooks the picturesque  Beira Lake.    Sinhala Tamil New Year The New Year Festival of the Sinhalese Buddhists and Tamil Hindus in Sri Lanka coincides with  the end of harvest. The New Year dawns with the transition of the sun from the house of Pisces  to that of Aries, according to the Vedic Solar Calendar. The New Year begins usually on 13th  and 14th April with the exact time determined by the constellation of the planets. The country  grinds to a halt with people traveling home to be with their families. The household rituals are  determined by astrological dictates such as lighting the fire and making a Kiri Batha (milk rice).  The celebrations then begin, with families mingling in the streets and Kawun and Kokis (small  oil cake and crispy sweetmeat) freely distributed.    Vesak Poya Day Vesak is the main Buddhist religious festival in Sri Lanka that is on the full moon in May. Thus,  Vesak is the first month of the Buddha Nirvana calendar. The Buddhists celebrate the triple  anniversary of the important events in the life of the Buddha. His birth, his attaining of  Enlightenment and his passing away into Nirvana. The day is expected to be spent in reflective  prayer with a cessation of worldly pursuits and engagement in religious observances at temples  and shrines. Streets are full of bright illuminations and constructs, and roadside stalls distribute  free refreshments to passers-by.  Poson Festival  The Poson Festival in June commemorates the conversion of Sri Lanka to Buddhism in the 3rd  century BC. Illuminations and processions can be seen all over the country with the most  impressive being at Mihintale. The ancient city is built around the area where Sri Lanka’s king  converted to Buddhism having listened to the words of Arahat Mahinda, the son of Emperor  Asoka.    Ramadan Festival With the sighting of the crescent moon the month of fasting commences. An Islamic practice,  during the month of Ramadan, Muslims in every part of the world including Sri Lanka are in  religious observance of the Quran.  The duration of fasting is from sunrise to sunset each day  for 29 to 30 days. Very young children, pregnant or lactating women, the elderly or sick are  usually not expected to participate. All Muslims abstain from consuming food and beverage,  while others even exclude certain behaviours during the time of fast.   The fast is broken at sunset with the inauguration of prayer, before enjoying a generous feast  surrounded by family and friends, which is truly a festive affair, however not forgetting the  inclusion of distributing and sharing with those less fortunate. Kandy - Esala Perahera  Esala Perehara in Kandy On the full-moon day of August each year, the sacred tooth relic of the  Buddha, encased in a golden casket, is taken in procession on the back of the temple elephant.  The magnificent procession is in all probability the most spectacular torch lit parade in all of  Asia. The sacred ritual has been followed for centuries, recorded with meticulous care since the  sacred relic was moved to the Kandy Dalada Maligawa – the Temple Palace of the Tooth Relic.  The old cannon booms after dusk and the Procession descends on to the streets every night,  with the parades growing longer each night until the final night of pageantry, when the parade is  at its pinnacled finest. More than a hundred elephants dressed in their fabulous finery, Kandyan chiefs in their  traditional royal regalia, thousands of dancers, drummers, flag bearers, fire-juggling acrobats,  musicians, whip crackers, torch bearers and thousands of barefoot pilgrims walk in measured  steps in the torch lit procession. People in their thousands line the streets of Kandy every night  during the festival to glimpse the golden casket and to pay homage to the Buddha with  thousands of vocal chords releasing the cry Sadhu! Sadhu!    Colombo - Bellanwila Perehera  Bellanwila Perehera in Colombo In the Month of August on the days of the waxing moon prior to  the Esala full moon the Bellanwill a temple located close to Colombo holds a colourful Perahera  (Pageant) to the Buddha. The perahera features traditional dancers performing to the drum  beats. The temple has a hallowed history due to its sacred Bo tree which according to Palm leaf  texts is one of the thirty-two saplings that sprang from the sacred Bo tree at Anuradhapura.     Kataragama Festival Katharagama Esala Festival at the Kataragama Shrine in the Deep South honours the God  Katharagama worshipped by Budhists and Hindus with equal fervor and devotion. During the  two-week festival, thousands of Hindu devotees bear chariots; pierce their flesh with hooks, s  and commit acts of penitence mostly to hounor vows beseeching the benevolence of the God  Skandha.    The devotional rituals conducted in a frenzied air of urgency reaches its end with h the “water-  cutting” ceremony. A holy casket is dipped in the Manica Ganga the sacred river. Accompanying  this ritual in the river are the thousands of pilgrims who submerge themselves – with their arms  raised and crying “Haro Hara” in obeisance to the God of many names – God Skandha, Lord  Murugan and God Katharagama.    St. Anne’s Church Feast The St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church located on a quite stretch of beach in Kalpitiya  peninsula has held the annual feast for more than three centuries in August.  Roman Catholics observe the annual Feast of St. Anne, dedicated to the mother of the Virgin  Mary. It is reputed as a place of miraculous healing by the faithful. Pilgrims flock to the annual  festival from all over the island.    Aadivel Festival   Aadivel Festival held in November is Hindu Religious festival in honour of Lord Murugan . The  festival requires the devotees to draw the the idols of Lord Murugan, Sri Valli and Theivaanai on  a silver plated chariot from the temple of Kathiseran temple in the busy commercial hub of  Colombo Pettah to the moreornate and grand Bambalapitiya shrine on Galle road the main  artery of the city of Colombo. The decorated chariot is followed by musicians and devotees  singing in praise of Lord Murugan . Cracking fresh coconuts nuts and burning incense add to  the sanctity of the ritual conducted to celebrate the victory of Lord Murugan over evil forces.    Deepawali Deepawali Festival is the most picturesque Hindu festivals celebrated in November. The  Festival of Light, the triumph of good over evil. The festival is marked by illuminations in the  form of clay land brass lamps and making figures out of sugar known as Misri. The oil lamps  that are lit in plenty are an invitation to the Goddess of wealth and success Lakshmi.    Christmas Christmas in Sri Lanka is celebrated in the true Lankan style. Although the majority of Sri  Lankan population in Buddhists and Christians make up only 7% of the total population of the  country, Christmas in Sri Lanka is celebration with great enthusiasm. The first sign of Christmas  celebrations in Sri Lanka dates back to many centuries, when Sri Lanka (Ceylon) was ruled by  Portuguese from 1505 to 1650 AD, followed by the Dutch and the British who ruled Sri Lanka  from 1658 to 1796 and 1815 to 1948, respectively. Here are some more interesting facts about  Christmas celebrations in Sri Lanka.
MONTH                           FESTIVAL                               UPCOMING EVENT DATE
15 January, 2016 23 January, 2016 22 February, 2016 14 April, 2016 03 May, 2015 02 June, 2015 16 July, 2015 31 July, 2015 31 July, 2015 31, July, 2015 29 October, 2015 10 November, 2015 25, December, 2015
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