Fabulous Festivals

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Festivals are frequent in Sri Lanka

It’s sometimes claimed that Sri Lanka has more festivals than any other country in the world, and with four major religions on the island and no fewer than 25 public holidays, things can seem to grind to a halt with disconcerting frequency. Virtually all the festivals are religious in nature and follow the lunar calendar, with every full moon signalling the start of a new month. An extra month is added every two or three years to keep the solar and lunar calendars in alignment.


Religious or Astrological traditions

Traditional Sri Lankan festivals and pageants are held for religious or astrological reasons, with Buddhist and Hindu cultures sharing the same solar and lunar calendars. In addition, Buddhists observe the Buddhist Nirvana Calendar for religious events.All Buddhist religious festivals follow the Buddhist Nirvana Calendar. Thus the month of January is known as ‘Duruthu’, ending on the day of the waxing moon. The Full Moon day is a public holiday in Sri Lanka, a fact you should note while on your Sri Lanka holiday. Liquor shops, Bars and Pubs are closed on such days.


Perahera means 'parade'

Duruthu Perahera is a countrywide celebration to mark when Buddha made a visit to the island. Colombo is the hub of the best of the celebrations. You will find traditional dancers performing at temples and colourful parades joining in with festivities.

Navam Perahera is held every full moon near the splendid Gangaramaya Temple overlooking the Beira Lake. Locals and tourists flock to Colombo to witness elephants adorned in silk robes, dancers and entertainers.

Poya days are national holidays

Medin Poya is a national holiday for Sri Lanka as it marks the day when Buddha visited his father for the first time since he became the enlightened one. Buddhists all over the country can be found meditating, offering flowers and listening to teachings.

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is the celebration at the end of the harvesting season. The month of April is full of the sound of firecrackers in neighbouring villages and the Erabadu trees are vibrant and in full bloom. It is a beautiful time to visit the island.