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Kataragama Esala Festival 3rd to 16th July 2019 
 
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Start Date/Time: Wednesday, July 3, 2019 5:00 AM 
End Date/Time: Tuesday, July 16, 2019 12:00 PM
Recurring Event: Every year on:7/3/2019
Description:

The Kataragama Esala festival will be held from July 03 to July 16 followed by the water cutting ceremony next day.

The festival is held as a veneration to deity Kataragama.



The Kataragama shrine is ancient. It was built by King Dutugemunu in the 2nd century BC, but it is apparently even older than this. There is an old pilgrimage route to Kataragama that starts in Yapapatuna and runs down the east coast, passing through Yala. Pilgrims still make the trek up the mountain. At dusk you can see the lights from the shrine on the mountain from the precincts of the Kataragama shrine.

The annual Esala Perahera which is held during the Esala poya (full moon) period falling usually between July and August will start the first day at the Kataragama Maha Devalaya and conclude after the water cutting ceremony at Menik Ganga.



This is a time of feverish activity at Kataragama. Elephants parade, drummers drum. Vows are made and favours sought by devotees who demonstrate their sin­cerity by performing extraordinary acts of penance and self-mortification: some swing from hooks that pierce their skin, others roll half naked over the hot sands near the temple.

Basnayake Nilame of the Ruhunu Kataragama Maha Devalaya will commence the preliminary rituals of the Esala Perahera by hoisting the flag of the Kataragama Muslim shrine at 4 o'clock in the afternoon of  the first day of the festival.

A large number of Hindu devotees in the Northern and Eastern Provinces have already arrived at the Kataragama sacred site on foot to attend the Kataragama Perahera festival. Instructions were given to look into the welfare and safety of pilgrims who come through the Yala National Park from the North and East to pay homage to deity Kataragama by supplying them with drinking water, food and medicine.

The health service will establish treatment centres, employ a team of extra doctors and deploy ambulances. An amalgamated train-bus service to Kataragama from Bandarawela and Matara will also commence for the benefit of the devotees attending the festival. Police and Army special teams will be deployed to ensure the safety of pilgrims.

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