Kataragama

Kataragama Temple is based in South Sri Lanka, a venerated holy site dedicated to Lord Kataragama, also known as Skanda Kumara or Lord Murugan, a Hindu God. In earlier times, pilgrims used to visit the Temple by an arduous journey on foot. To enter the Temple grounds the devotees would cross over the Menik river, where even today little fish would nibble at your feet. Kataragama is a hallowed Devalaya visited by Tamils, Buddhist, Muslims. Kataragama was originally built in the jungle.

During the spectacular Kataragama Esala festival you will observe processions of devotes walking on wood charcoal red hot embers (fire walkers), traditional dancers, kawadi dancers, and many other religious rituals taking place including some devotees having hooks embedded into their flesh in their back and are either pulling a weight behind them or swung from a frame! All of this is to show reverence to Lord Kataragama. The finale is when the devotees plunge into the Menik River as a mark of purification. This occurs in the morning after the final ritual on the Esala full moon night.

It is difficult to reconstruct the actual history of Kataragama and the reason for its popularity amongst Sri Lankans and Indians. Based on legend, available archaeological and literary evidence alone, the place seems to have a venerable history and continual dialogue between the Buddhist and Hindus as to its rightful ownership and method of worship!

Adjoining Kataragama Devalaya is the Kiri Vehera, a stupa that was renovated in 1912 and sits on a plinth of 30 meters square and 3.1 meters in height. The Stupa is 29 meters in height with a circumference of 85 meters and probably dates back to the 3rd Century BC. Legend has it that the sword that Prince Siddhartha used to cut off his hair at his renunciation of all his worldly goods, possessions and his princely title to become Buddha is placed within the stupa.

July:  Kataragama Perahera

Kataragama Perahera is held in honour and reverence to Lord Kataragama, also known as Skanda Kumara or Lord Murugan, a Hindu God. It depicts Hindu music, dance and folklore.

During the spectacular Kataragama Esala festival you will observe processions of devotes walking on wood charcoal red hot embers (fire walkers), traditional kawadi dancers, including devotees having hooks embedded into their flesh in their back. All of this to show reverence to Lord Kataragama.

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