Kandy City is located in the Central Highlands, about in the middle of the tiny island nation of Sri Lanka. The renowned Sri Dalada Maligawa, popularly known as the Temple of the Tooth, is the jewel in the crown of the city. The word “Maligawa” means “palace” in its literal sense, and the temple is a part of the palace complex. The entire edifice is at least three centuries old and has witnessed numerous kings’ ascents and declines. It is one of the most historical locations still remaining on the island and has witnessed both brutal conflicts and tranquil reigns.

History

  • In Kalinga, India, the Sacred Tooth of Lord Buddha is kept.
  • To avoid having his adversaries, who had started a war, obtain the tooth relic, the Kalinga monarch Guhasiva sent it to Sri Lanka in the fourth century AD along with Prince Danta and Princess Hemamala.
  • The tooth relic is brought to Anuradhapura by the then-King Meghavanna and placed in a sacred building in the third century.
  • Later, rulers in the kingdoms of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, and Dambadeniya constructed shrines for the relic adjacent to the royal homes since the tooth relic became a prestige symbol designating the right to ascend the throne.
  • The tooth temple was located in Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital city of the Kotte Kingdom, during the time.
  • The Tooth of the Lord Buddha was transported to the city with the expansion of the Kingdom of Kandy and kept there by King Vimaladharmasuriya I in a two-story structure. The structure was destroyed by the passage of time.
  • During the Portuguese Invasion in 1603, the tooth relic was hidden. Nearly fifty years later, King Rajasingha II took it back to Kandy and re-housed it in a structure that matched the earlier structure.
  • King Vira Parakrama Narendra Singha constructed the modern temple of the tooth in the early 1700s. The following King Sri Wickrama Rajasingha continued to build the moat and octagonal structure.
  • Civil battles in the late 20th century caused damage to the Temple of the Tooth, which needed to be repaired.

Folklore

According to legend, Lord Buddha’s remnants were dispersed among the several kingdoms for adoration after being cremated after his passing. It appears that his four canines were the most sacred of all these relics.

The right canine of the four was purportedly taken for worship by the King of Gods, followed by the king of the land Gandhara (now in Pakistan), the Nagas (snake people), who took the third canine and worshipped it in a golden shrine room, and the left canine, which was given to the King of Kalinga in East India.

Esala Perahera in Kandy

To honor the conception, renunciation, and the first sermon of Lord Buddha, a celebration known as the Esala Perahera is annually in July. This festival, which is a component of Sri Lankan social custom, features vibrant processions with exciting circus-like performers like elephants, sword dancers, fire eaters, stilt walkers, and others.

The Tooth Relic, which is displayed for public worship on the back of a decked elephant, is the event’s main draw, though. The Kandyan dancers will be a significant part of the parade.

All tourists to Sri Lanka must visit the Temple of the Tooth and the Esala Perahera, which are integral to the country’s culture.

 

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