By D.C. Ranatunga
Esala festival season is just coming to an end. The Bellanwila Perahera organised by the Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya is eagerly looked forward to and was once again held amidst large crowds a few days back.
This year’s Perahera, held for the 69th year, had 39 elephants marching along and the number of dancing troupes were estimated at 43.
Bellanwila Perahera is considered the biggest in the Western Province outside the capital city. Being just three kilometres away from the city limits, the Bellanwila Viharaya has a chequered history and draws large crowds for more than one reason.
Devotees have great faith in the Bodhi tree at the temple and are seen in numbers daily pouring water to the tree and chanting stanzas. It has been accepted that the Bo tree is one of the 32 saplings of the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura. Crowds, particularly from the outskirts of the city, gather to see the Perahera. Most of them come early, worship the Budu-ge and the Bo tree and then take their places along the Perahera route.
– Pics courtesy Wijayabandara