© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

Home Whips Kings Processions Poson Dondra Kodawila Kataragama

Kataragama Temple

Kataragama  Temple is dedicated to the warrior Deity Kataragama or Skanda . This festival takes place over 10 days. Each night of the Perahera Procession the main Temple elephant carries the most sacred Buddhist relic at the end of the procession. Here he is being “dressed” and then head Temple man mounts into the carrier with the relic. The Temple women will follow after him. The spectators toss flower petals and spray scent at him as he passes along  the processional route. Every night of the 10 day Perahera different dignitaries will follow behind in the procession. Then come Tamil groups dancing, often one will “see the future” during the procession. (For further details on Kataragama see section on Deities)

The Chief Kataragma elephant is “dressed by the Temple officials. N.B. The Temple ladies waiting in front. They carry brooms and sweep up the debris. When the elephant is “dressed”, the sacred relic is loaded on top

The procession moves off. The Temple official is inside the decorated structure guarding the relic.

Tamil Pilgrims - during this procession the woman in the pink “pujab” starting to “see” the future.

At the end of the procession route the main elephant enters the Temple.

Groups of Pilgrims camp out on the procession route for the 10 day festival. Many of them have journeyed from Jaffna Peninsula down the Eastern coast from Temple to Temple on this traditional pilgrim route - a journey of many days. In historic times this journey was made on foot, now a community will typically hire a bus or a family groups, a van.

Washing clothes and bathing in the Holy River Menik, that flows down from Sri Pada mountain in  the Hill Country, through Kataragama. Pilgrims will first take a dip in this sacred river. (This is the mountain to which pilgrimage is made to view the footprint of Buddha - see section on Pilgrims)