Q: At the end of last Saturday’s (September 28th) post you mentioned something called, “Esala Perahera.” What is that?
A: My trip to Sri Lanka was timed so that I could observe it first hand. Here is a description from the “Insight Guide to Sri Lanka:”
The lunar month of Esala is a month for festivals and peraheras all around the island. Easily the finest and the most famous is the Esala Perahera held at Kandy over the ten days leading up to the Esala Poya (full moon) day (late July or early August). The festival dates back to ancient Anuradhapura, when the Tooth Relic (of the Buddha) was taken through the city in procession, and the pattern continues to this day, with the relic carried at the head of an enormous procession which winds its way round and round the city by night. The perahera becomes gradually longer and more lavish over the 10 days of the festival, until by the final night it has swollen to include a cast of hundreds of elephants and thousands of dancers, drummers, fire-eaters, acrobats, and many others – an extraordinary sight without parallel anywhere else in Sri Lanka, if not the whole of Asia.
I would go further and add that the Esala Perahera is one of the world’s great festivals. Who could ever imagine such a spectacle? It may be a cliché to say it, but travel is ultimately the best education.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
So inclination you see is not lacking, and yet in all probability I shall have to try right here to clamber in the dark and all alone over the crest of the year, so to speak, for disciplinary reasons. I shall not deserve it otherwise, that is: I have long wanted to be here all alone, strictly alone, to go into my cocoon, to pull myself together, in short, to live by my heart and nothing else. Now since day before yesterday I have really been here all alone inside the old walls – outside, the sea, outside, the Karst, outside, the rain, perhaps tomorrow the storm – now must appear what is within by way of counterweight to such great and fundamental things. So, if something quite unexpected does not come, it may be the right thing to say, to hold out, to hold still with a kind of curiosity toward oneself, don’t you think? That is how things stand, and if I stir now everything will shift again; and then hearts are labeled, like certain medicines: shake before taking; I have been continually shaken in these last years, but never taken, that is why it is better that I should quietly arrive at clarity and precipitation…
Jane Bannard Greene and M.D. Herter Norton, translators, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke 1910 – 1926
Comments are welcome!