Kandy Perahara, SriLanka
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Mask Festival Srilanka A vast majority of the people of Sri Lanka are Buddhists. But throughout history, folk cults with beings of supernatural powers that influence day-to-day lives of the people have entered the main stream Buddhism. There are elaborate rituals to pacify these evil spirits and to appease the benevolent. Although not encouraged by the Buddhist clergy, there is a large following of these rituals, especially in the southern part of the country.

The commonest of them is the "devil dancing", which is a form of exorcism with quite a bit of theatrics thrown in for good measure. The colorful and sometimes frightening masks worn by the performers, represent the good and evil spirits. These masks are all hand crafted by traditional craftsmen out of local soft woods and can be quite elaborate. The town of Ambalangoda in southern Sri Lanka is famous for these masks.

Kandy Perahara started during the reign King Megavanna , (301 - 331 A.D.) who decreed that the that the Tooth Relic of Lord Buddha should be taken out of it's gilded shrine inside Dalada Maligawa ( Temple of the Tooth), and paraded around the city so that the public could pay their respects. Today this pageant or perahara, held for two weeks in August (Esala in Buddhist calendar), has grown to be one of the most splendid sights in Sri Lanka and South East Asia and perhaps even the whole world. Magnificently decorated elephants, colorful Kandyan dancers with their drummers, devil dancers from the southern temples, fire eaters, whip crackers, stick walkers, and an assortment of other artistes from all walks of life, take part in the perahara.