The Ancient India & Iran Trust motif
Howard Wilson Archive Six Marks of Buddhist Art and Iconography in Sri Lanka
The Bodhi TreeThe DagabaThe ScripturesThe BuddhaTemple of the Tooth Sri Pada
The Arts of the PalaceThe Arts of the Vihara
Search the Archive Further Information Return to the AIIT home page
Temple of the Tooth

Sometime after 362 CE, a Brahmin princess is believed to have brought to the island a tooth of the Buddha she had concealed in her hair. By the Polonnaruva Period (1017-1215 CE) the relic had attained great importance and its possession was regarded as essential for the exercise of royal sovereignty. A cult arose surrounding the tooth and a small palace (Dalada Maligawa) was built as a part of the royal palace in Kandy.

Once a year the famous Esala (August) Perahera (procession) is celebrated. It is the climax of ten days and nights of increasing excitement in Kandy. On the night of the full moon (poya) in August, the tooth relic is carried in colourful procession through the streets of Kandy on the back of a great bull elephant. Smaller Peraheras are held at other locations on the Island.

Previous page Next page

Search the Archive