Imagine somnolent afternoon sinking to dusk. Crowds are steadily descending on the centre of the city – walking carelessly in family groups or in pairs, on the pavements, or spilling across the roads, for traffic has been banished since late afternoon – the Perahera holds centre stage now
At the temples, dancers and musicians, whip crackers, flag carriers, fire walkers and monks are putting the finishing touches to their costumes, marking the pattern of intricate choreography, tuning instruments and talking, talking. There is no tension, but plenty of excitement. The stars of the show, the elephants, are having a final bath at the fountain before being led, slick and dark, to their dressing stations, to be shrouded in cloth of gold, spangled in flashing lights and fed final titbits: a hand of bananas, a choice piece of sugar cane, perhaps. The buzz is building. Viewing stands fill to bursting. A boy from the Pizza Hut darts across the road, frantically taking last orders.
A cannon roars through the night, silencing the crowds. A collective sigh of anticipation.
Now the sound of drums begins to reverberate from hill to hill across the lake, permeating up through the expectant stands. From far off, the electric crack of a whip. Then another, followed by another and another …
Let the Perahera begin!
This post was inspired by Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Challenge: Rhythm. Follow the link to Where’s My Backpack to see a melange of rhythmic interpretations.
Dance is love, it is only love, it alone, and that is enough… I, then, it is amorously that I dance, but now I would like to no longer dance to anything but the rhythm of my soul… so I found rhythm in Patagonia…
Hope the photos inspire you 🙂
so vibrant,evocative writing and gorgeous pictures!
Thanks Christine. I wasn’t going to do the Perahera, but everything else seemed a little pale in comparison!
Beautiful! I can’t believe I’ll get to be there for part of Perahera this year. Do you have any advice on where to stand to see the show? 🙂
Standing around is a bit difficult nowadays because of security. Talk to your hotel/guest house. When will you be there?
A wonderful, lively post for this challenge!
That’s so nice of you Robin, thanks;)
This is fabulous, I adore the movement and light in these photos and I can see how anything else might seem pale in comparison to Perahera. Wonderful stuff.
Thanks dear, I’m glad you enjoyed the rhythm of lights that is the Perahera:) What a fun challenge!
And some incredibly fun responses. It’s so cool reading everyone’s interpretations from around the world. 🙂
I think your blog has taken on a new dimension – no longer just you and your backpack!
Very true, it has taken on a quite unexpected (and very fun) dimension. My backpack and I are enjoying the company 🙂
You’re too kind … if only I could get them in focus (sigh) … I’m going to give it another try this year, armed with a tripod and a pocket full of spare batteries!
Photography at night with sudden bright flashes of light is sooooo tricky, I tried to capture some night time ski jumping. I gave up and watched! So yes to the tripod !!
Fingers crossed the tripod does the trick!
Fabulous! Great photos and you conjured up the atmosphere so well! Love it.
So glad you liked it. You felt the heat too?
Your responses to these challenges are amazing. Incredible photos and I learn so much. Thank you!
My pleasure! Thank YOU 🙂
Beautifully written, I could imagine the atmosphere even before I saw your photos 🙂 And the photos captured the festive mood wonderfully.
That:’s what I was trying to achieve – I’m so pleased it worked for you. Thanks for letting me know Happy Sherlock.
But what is Perahera?
Basically, it’s a procession. A ceremonial religious event that processes from a temple and out into the streets. The Kandy Aesala Perahera is the greatest of them, occurring on ten nights and one day!
To celebrate what?
In the case of Kandy, it had originally been the time the people gave thanks for the monsoon. When the Sinhalese kingdom had contracted into the hills, bringing with it the sacred relics of the Buddha given to their ancestors by Asoka of India, the rains celebration morphed into a display of might, linking pre-Buddhist rituals with ceremonies from the earlier kingdoms.
I’ve just booked to go up for two nights toward the end of the season and will do a comprehensive post with history and the whole works. Stay tuned some time in Ausust!
An amazing display. You capture it beautifully, and indeed the elephants are the brightest stars of the show but with their surrounding stars a brilliant setting highlighting them.
It’s a phantasmagorical riot of colour, action, noise, fire, spectacle and always, stealing the show whenever they lurch into view, the elephants.
“phantasmagorical”… love it.
Gorgeous pictures and great entry!!!
Bless ya’, Nicole:)
I love rhytms, of all kind. Very nice photos.
Me too! Thanks so much for the thumbs up, Bente. That’s a great compliment, coming from you:)
I’ve nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. If interested please check it out at http://susartandfood.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/versatile-blogger-award-5/ for more information. 🙂
Why Sue, how very kind of you! Of course, I’d love to play. Thank you very much. I’ll go immediately to see the other blogs!
I’m so glad
I wish I could have heard the rhythm. I’ll have to take the video camera when I go this year, so I can download the sounds for you – it really is exhilarating! Glad you liked the idea of it, Tilly:)
Fabulous! I was drawn into your narrative even though this type of celebration is not new to me! The images definitely added to the mood. Great entry and thank you for sharing this with us.
Oh Madhu, thanks for telling me I’d drawn you in! That is indeed a test. I’m so smiling 🙂
Amaaaaaazing work, and fantastic description! I really want to go to Sri Lanka now!
It’s safe now, tell your Mom!
Hahaha not going to cut it. Nowhere is safe to my mother.
Oh but I’m older than her. Steve, and have lived here for ages and I know … 🙂
Haha ooh I know it’s safe! I’d love love looooove to go. I’m just saying my poor mother gets worried when I go ANYWHERE. Her hair’s turning gray because I’m here. I can only imagine what will happen when she reads my next few posts….
Better soften her up first!
I can almost feel the beat! Thanks for sharing!
I hope to bring it to you on video next time, but I’m glad the pictures and words did it for you this time Nelson:)
I enjoyed the way you built up the anticipation of the Rhythm with your words. Wish I could see the fire walkers, great photos.
Stay tuned some time in August. Maybe I’ll be able to catch a demo when I’m there.
I have nominated you for the Beautiful Bloggers Award. I hope you will pick it up here: http://wp.me/p23TG1-Pg
BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!
I felt the Perahera rhythym and it’s amazing. I felt the vibrant excitement as I read the words and watch the exhilirating images. Wow!
I’m so glad! It is a truly amazing procession – all cacophonous sound, driven by rhythm. Thank you:)
Amazing! I love it.
Still catching up on things and only 250 more emails to sift through! I have been posting, but not reading others as much as I should. Oh well 2 more weeks until I have the time to catch up.
But then you’ll want to be doing all those Canadian Summer Things you used to do when you were young(er) – not lugging around your laptop catching up on emails. Disengage them, I say, otherwise you’ll never enjoy your spare time in Shanghai in the short while you’ve got left, or when you go home on holiday:)
Glad you got into the rhythm of the perahera:)
I have a 5 hour airport layover I think I’ll get caught up then 😉
Well, that’s one way to pass the time:)
Yes because if I read I may fall asleep and miss my connection! Win Win!
Where’s this layover, CTB? Five hours could be a decent sleep (or can you sleep on planes? I can’t!), or time for a spot of local colour (material for a travel post!). Those’d be my choices, for what it’s worth:)
My layover is Dubai. It is very interesting and did it last year. The return is better since we get out of the airport and have time to explore…. we opted for that instead of sleep 🙂 Yes definite blog material.
When do you leave?
Next weekend… counting the days!
7, 6, 5 … plus 36 hours on the magic carpet! Love it:)
been too busy at work and too long away from hubby so just can’t wait!
Dear me. Hope this week flies like the wind … 🙂
Thanks… me too 🙂
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