Events and festivals in

Sri Lanka

Events and festivals in Sri Lanka

Due to its mixture of cultures and religions, the festivities of Sri Lanka enjoy a great variety. Although some of the best known, celebrated during the full moon, are dedicated to Buddhism, the country also celebrates Christian festivals as in the Madhu Festival. The main characteristic of their festivities is that they are extremely colourful with music, dancing and, on occasions, the participation of elephants in their parades.



The festival of lights typical of the Hindu religion that coincides with the Hindu New Year. It is celebrated throughout the country, so many of the cities are filled with light and life. During the five days of celebration, the locals wear their best clothes, eat sweets and watch beautiful firework displays.  

Duruthu Festival

In the month of January, the Duruthu Festival is celebrated, which commemorates the arrival of Buddha to Sri Lanka. One of the best places to enjoy it is in Colombo, especially in the neighbourhood of Kelaniya, where the Raja Maha Vihara is located. During the festivities, the streets are filled with music, dancers, fireworks and Buddhist processions in which numerous elephants participate  

Esala Perahera

The Esala Perahera is a very popular festival in Kandy, known for its parades, lights and colours. It is a Buddhist festival, celebrated during the full moon. The ceremony begins in the temple of the Buddha's tooth, where the pilgrims gather to see the relic of their god. Later, from four sanctuaries in the city, there are several parades of more than 100 elephants decorated in many vibrant colours. On the street, there is music and traditional dancing.  

Madhu Festival

This celebration is centred on Christianity. Christian Sri Lankans head to Madhu Church in Mannar to pray and then parade a statue of the Virgin Mary outside in the streets. With her on their shoulders, a procession takes place through the centre of the city, while the devotees go on praying and singing to her. The celebrations last for about ten days.  

Poson Full Moon Poya Day

This festival venerates the arrival of Buddhism to the country. During that day prayers are made in Buddhist temples across the country, especially in the most popular such as Mihintale and Anuradhapura where many pilgrims gather. The streets are decorated for the occasion and illuminated with pretty lights.  

Sangamitta Day

Celebrated on the December Full Moon, this celebration commemorates the arrival of the Buddhist princess Sangamitta,  who arrived with the cutting of the tree of enlightenment from India and later planted it in Anuradhapura. That day the monks conduct a series of rituals in front of Buddha statues.

Thai Ponga

This festival is celebrated on the winter solstice and is dedicated to the sun god Surya, since it is the beginning of the journey that the sun will make from the south to the north. It is celebrated to give thanks for the success of winter crops.  

Vesak Full Moon Poya Day

It is one of the most important days for the Buddhist religion. It coincides with the full moon in May and the day is in commemoration of the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. It also coincides with the third and last visit of the teacher in Sri Lanka. Monks dress all in white and the temples are filled with flowers and incense.

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