Simply Splendid

Jake demands nothing but splendour this week, so there’s nothing for it but to give you a glimpse of a couple of magnificent perahera elephants.

First came this fellow, with his splendid tusks encased in hand-beaten brass ‘gloves’ – not to forget his splendid new led-lite regalia.

Much later, the climax of the first phase of the perahera, the gloriously resplendent Maligawa tusker drew reverent attention in cloth of gold.  Carrying the sacred relic in its jewel-like reliquary, this splendid animal is flanked by two other tuskers – each carrying attendants who bless the relic chamber with showers of scented jasmine.

Other splendid entires can be viewed here.

44 thoughts on “Simply Splendid

    • Ah, well you see, Christine, that’s the problem – almost all the pictures were out of focus, or didn’t have enough light, or were obscured by the hefty police woman, etc.! I was going to do a piece about the origins and meaning of the perahera, but I don’t think i’m going to have enough pictures to illustrate it.

      It sure is splendiferous though!

    • Well, of course i can’t tell you about the parade before any artificial lights (!), but in the early days I saw lots of peraheras where the elephants had no lights on them. Their costumes were far more intricately sewn, with lots of appliqué patterns and things in gold and silver, and mirror to reflect the lights. There were more braziers too. It wasn’t as pretty, but seemed more pagan and exotic – as though it was something subversive I was watching, bacchanalian almost.

      I can remember the first time I saw lights on the relic casket, then later on a couple of the elephants (they carried a shoe box sized transformer/battery to power sets of Chrismas tree lights) – the crowd was electrified, so to speak. A great intake of breath, then the reverence, then they exploded in clapping and excited chatter – that was a wonderful experience too.

      One day I’ll get it together to do a full Perahera post and I’ll be sure to scan those old prints and include them in the story JM – thanks for the reminder.

    • I think they do, Bente. They are trained for it from a young age – you see the littlies (pre-teens) trotting along with a couple of older animals at the end of each group – sometimes running amuck, but mostly seeming to be avidly interested. They’re very curious animals, and seem to love being amused, or entertained. One morning I walked around the fountain near my hotel, where they take some of the elephants for a bath. One fellow was tethered there (very scenic sleeping quarters!) and was amazed at how he almost leapt into the air, trying to reach for the branches of a tree way, way out of reach, then picked up a coconut frond and waved it in the air, swatting his backside with it, doing a little gig – really, I could swear he was laughing in one of the shots I have!

    • They’re a fantastic idea, aren’t they Deepa? Years ago they used to mount a car battery in a pretty box on the elephant’s neck to power strings of Christmas tree lights but these LEDs are much more versatile.

  1. Oh that is splendid alright! Reminds me of the Puram festival in Trichur, Kerala. but even grander. I HAVE to see this in person. Well done TWLG 🙂

    • Thanks, Madhu!

      I hope one day you’ll visit your neighbour – but I wonder. I couldn’t wait to leave Oz and go see the world. The presumption of it! I remember thinking “I’ll leave the rest of Australia, and New Zealand for later, when I was old …”. And that seems to be the way it’s panning out 🙂

  2. Pingback: SUNDAY POST: Splendid | "Shutter flirt"!… thAt!

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