26 Oct 2020

Understand Sri Lanka's Spiritual Side at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, Kandy

It was golden hours of the day, bright shining sunlight! I was wandering along the lakeside path, when my eyes stuck at the passing by several monks in their saffron robes, heading towards the partly visible, The Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic, also known as Sri Dalada Maligawa. What best outline one can have for the peaceful and serene cultural capital of Sri Lanka, Kandy! The gilded-roofed temple sits north of Kandy lake within the palace complex of the erstwhile Kandyan kingdom.

Though I am not a history buff but bit of a legendary history of the tooth relic held my attention. The sacred tooth relic which was originally preserved in the ancient City of Kalinga (Somewhere in South India as the boundaries has swung away with the territories of its desperate countless rulers), was smuggled by two of its disciples; The Prince Dantha and the Princess Hemamali. You will also notice gleaming and standing tall statues of them in the temple Premises. On their way back to the Sri Lankan Island, Princess hid the tooth relic in her hair. Legend has it that whosoever was in possession of the tooth relic would have the right to rule the land. Later it was handed over to the King who had a dedicated temple built within the royal complex to enshrine the sacred tooth relic. To make it more secure, it’s being said that many replicas were made and housed all over the Kandyan kingdom. This legend dates back between 1687 and 1707.

Surprisingly, you never see the sacred tooth relic! It’s believed to be kept in a small golden casket, which again, in turn, is kept in a larger casket, this too again kept in an even larger casket. Altogether there are a total of seven in numbers. With an air of mystery surrounding it, now you get it why this temple is the most well-protected, sacred site in Sri Lanka. Make sure you are suitably dressed up when visiting the temple. Oneliner - No shorts at all!

Every year, the Esala Perahera, which is the biggest festival of Sri Lanka and the largest Buddhist celebration in the world, commences from this temple. The grand 10-day torchlight procession, which is held during the full moon in late July / early August, brings the tooth relic out of the temple on ornately decorated elephants to the streets of Kandy. A throng of pilgrims from across the globe pays homage to the sacred tooth relic.

The leisurely stroll around Kandy Lake and the enlightening pilgrimage to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic soothed my heart & soul.

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