Sri Lanka’s festivals offer visitors the chance to experience the diverse cultures that shape the island's identity. The festivals are an integral part of life here, from the Buddhist festival of Kandy Esala Perahera – one of the country’s grandest traditional festivals – to the Catholic Madhu Church Festival, and from the Hindu Vel festival to the series of events marking Ramdan; the country’s major religions are all represented here.
The Esala is believed to be a fusion of two separate but interconnected "Peraheras" (Processions) – The Esala and Dalada. The Esala Perahera, which is thought to date back to the 3rd century BC, was a ritual enacted to request the gods for rainfall. The Dalada Perahera is believed to have begun when the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha was brought to Sri Lanka from India during the 4th century CE, eight hundred years after the passing away of Lord Buddha.
Vesākha, also known as Buddha Purnima and Buddha Day, is a holiday observed traditionally by Buddhists on different days in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia and Philippines etc.
On Vesākha Day, Buddhists all over the world commemorate events of significance to Buddhists of all traditions: The birth, enlightenment and the passing away of Gautama Buddha. As Buddhism spread from India it was assimilated into many foreign cultures, and consequently Vesākha is celebrated in many different ways all over the world. In India, Vaishakh Purnima day is also known as Buddha Jayanti day and has been traditionally accepted as Buddha's birth day.
The Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu is a Roman Catholic Marian shrine in Mannar district of Sri Lanka. With a history of over 400 years, this shrine acts as a center for pilgrimage and worship for Sri Lankan Catholics. The site is considered as the holiest Catholic shrine in the island and is a well known place of devotion for both Tamil and Sinhalese Catholics. A former Pattini-Kannaki shrine, the church has been a symbol of unity not just between Tamils and Sinhalese, but also between people of different religions, including Buddhists, Hindus and Protestants. Attendance for the August festival at times touched close to a million people before the outbreak of the Sri Lankan Civil War.
Christianity in Sri Lanka is not well known before the 16th century although some local traditions claim that Saint Thomas the Apostle was active in the island. The Portuguese missionaries from India, especially under the authority of Saint Francis Xavier are known to have brought Roman Catholicism to the Kingdom of Jaffna, which comprised the northern peninsula of Sri Lanka. The newly converted Christians were under persecution under both the king of Jaffna and the Dutch. During this time the Catholics regrouped to form a church in Mantai installing a statue of Our Lady of Good Health in a shrine.
Kataragama (Sinhalese: කතරගම (katharagama), Tamil: கதிர்காமம் (katirkāmam)) is a pilgrimage town sacred to Buddhist, Hindu and indigenous Vedda people of Sri Lanka. People from South India also go there to worship. The town has the Ruhunu Maha Kataragama devalaya, a shrine dedicated to Skanda-Murukan also known as Kataragamadevio. Kataragama is in the Monaragala District of Uva province, Sri Lanka. It is 228 km ESE of Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. Although Kataragama was a small village in medieval times, today it is a fast-developing township surrounded by jungle in the southeastern region of Sri Lanka. It houses the ancient Kiri Vehera Buddhist stupa. The town has a venerable history dating back to the last centuries BCE. It was the seat of government of many Sinhalese kings during the days of Rohana kingdom. Since the 1950s the city has undergone many improvements with successive governments investing in public transportation, medical facilities, and business development and hotel services.
Sinhalese New Year, generally known as Aluth Avurudda (Sinhalese: අලුත් අවුරුද්ද) in Sri Lanka, is the new year of the Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka. Cultural anthropological history of the 'Traditional New Year' which is celebrated on month of April, goes back to an ancient period in Sri Lankan history.people think the celebration of new year is the change of thoughts too. Various beliefs, perhaps those associated with fertility of the harvest, gave birth to many rituals, customs, and ceremonies connected with the New Year. The advent of Buddhism in the 3rd century BC led to a re-interpretation of the existing New Year activities in the Buddhism light. The majority of the people in the country are Buddhists, and as such, it is that the Buddhist outlook was predominant in transforming the New Year rites to what they are now.
Hinduism, on the other hand, existed side by side with Buddhism, in medieval times. New Year practices interpreted in the Hinduism way developed among the Hindus. Buddhism and Hinduism were historically connected with each other. Their philosophies were running along parallel dimensions, except for certain ultimate truths concerning the self, the way to achieve emancipation and the nature of a creative god (which Buddhism denies) and nirvana . There was no serious contradiction in New Year rituals that are found among the Buddhists and Hindus.