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   Thai Pongal  
     
  Thai penal, the Hindu harvest festival in honor of the sun god, is celebrated on January 14. Worship at the kevel (temple) is mandatory for adherents to the faith. However, special rituals are also held at the home, the most significant of which is the cooking and ceremonial consumption of the traditional sweetened rice called pongal. An observance of a creative nature, kolam, involves making intricate floor motifs with flour.
 
     
   Madu Pongal  
     
  In rural areas, a sequel known as Madu Pongal follows several days later. This entails the washing of each household’s domestic animals, after are which they are specially fed, given an auspicious red smear on the forehead, and garlanded with marigolds.  
     
   
     
  The Kelaniya Duruthu Perahera, second only to the kandy Esala Perahera, is held on Duruthu Poya at the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, only a short distance from Colombo. The spots where the comparatively modern Vihara (temple) stand is said to be on of the three.   
     
   
     
  Independence Day, celebrating independence from Great Britain in 1948, falls on February 4. This is a special holiday on which parades, dances, processions and national games are organized all over the island. But the main event is held in Colombo near the parliamentary complex at Sri Jayawardhanapura kotte, and is attended by politicians, diplomats and the like VIP’s.   
     
   
     
  Although the Gangaramaya Navam Perahera was first held only in 1979, it has now developed into one of the grandest Perahera in Sri Lanka. As it is held at the Gangaramaya Vihara in the heart of Colombo, it is a special experience for visitors to the capital. Not only can the Perahera be witnessed from strategically located stands along the route of the procession through the street of the area, for visitors can also watch the fascinating and colorful build-up. In the days prior to the Perahera, over 100 tame elephants (Ali) from the western region of the island start to arrive and gather at Colombo’s viharamahadevi Park. In the hours before the start of the event, these elephants line up their magnificent decorative finery on the roadway outside performers – from musicians to stilt-walker-start to assemble and practice.   
     
   
     
  The Hindu festival of Maha sivarathri is celebrated in late February or early march. This is the most important religious festival of the year for Shaivites, who comprise the majority of Sri Lankan Hindus. It is a deeply symbolic occasion celebrating the winning of Lord Shiva by his consort Parvati, through the efficacy of penance. All night poojas are offered in the temples (kovils), and every house keeps an all night vigil.    
     
   
     
  Sinahala and Tamil New year, which falls on April 12 and 13, is a non-religious festival and therefore celebrated by all SriLankans. Sinahala Avurudu as it is known – originally a harvest thanksgiving – marks the passage of the sun from Pisces to Aries. It does not begin at the hour of midnight on the designated day, as , like many events in Sri lanka, the precise (auspicious) timings are decided upon astrologically, Western minds have to contend with the concept that the New year commences not at the time the old one ends, but sometime afterwards. The few hours time between the old and the new one is called nongathe, or neutral period. This is reserved for religious activity of whatever persuasion.To observe the traditional customers of this festival, it is necessary to travel to a remote village and visit a typical household. On the eve of the New Year the family members clean the house and at specified time light a lamp in the garden. At the start of the neural period, all activities cease, including eating and drinking. With the start of the New Year a fire is lit in the kitchen, new clothes are worn and fresh activities begin. Then comes the ganu-denu, or literally give and take. Before making the first transaction of the New Year, a SriLankans often exchanges money with someone close to him or someone considered a good customer. The festival culminates with the anointing ceremony. Oil is mixed with a herbal paste, and at the auspicious time a respected family elder rubs a spot of the paste on the head of each family member. Those who are anointed sit in chairs facing a specified direction, with a white cloth beneath their feet, under an awning from which hang various leaves.New Year in the village is also the time for various sports and games such as elephant, two-wheeled cart races, climbing the greasy pole, and pillow fighting astride and elevated log. Another common feature is the playing of the large, floor-bound drum known as the rabana, which is played by several girls or women dressed in their New Year finery.   
     
   Easter  
     
  In either March or April, Easter is celebrated by the Roman Catholics of Duwa, near Negombo, with a passion play along the lines of that of Oberammergua. Known as Raja Tun Kattuwa (literally a group of three kings) it is a curious mixture of puppetry and live theatre combining straight prose dialogue with stylized song-drama called nadagam. Much of the action takes place off stage on the streets of the village. The Good Friday climax, when the crucifixion is re-enacted, has a great emotional impact on the audience, whatever their creed.   
     
   
     
  International Worker’s day May Day is also celebrated in Srilanka with colorful parades, processions and mass rallies organized by the leading trades unions, which provide visitors with a chance to witness the carnival flair of the people.
 
     
   Wesak festival  
     
  Wesak, the most hallowed of Buddhist festivals commemorating the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha is held on the full moon day in May and the day following it. Starting at dawn, Buddhist dressed in white start to make their way to the temple to observed sila, in which they spend the day meditating, reading religious texts, and listening to sermons. At night the temples are crowed with devotees bringing flowers and offerings. Nevertheless, Wesak is a joyous occasion and is celebrated with verve and imagination. Among the many striking decorations are intricate Wesak paper lanterns of different shapes and sizes, and the thousands of little clay coconut oil lamps (pol-thel pahana) that flicker throughout the island. In Colombo the celebrations are unsurpassed. Enormous pandals (bamboo frameworks) hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha are erected in the streets, illuminated by a myriad of flashing coloured electric light bulbs. Another special feature of Wesak is the danseals (alms booths). These are temporary sheds, set up by the roadside with tables and chairs by local people, at which food and refreshment are given free to sightseers and pilgrims. In addition, puppet shows and open-air theatre performances telling Buddhist tales are held throughout the island.
In Colombo the celebrations are unsurpassed. Enormous pandals (bamboo frameworks) hung with pictures depicting events in the life of the Buddha are erected in the streets, illuminated by a myriad of flashing coloured electric light bulbs. Another special feature of Wesak is the danseals (alms booths). These are temporary sheds, set up by the roadside with tables and chairs by local people, at which food and refreshment are given free to sightseers and pilgrims. In addition, puppet shows and open-air theatre performances telling Buddhist tales are held throughout the island. 
 
     
   Poson Poya  
  Poson, held on the full moon day of June, commemorates the occasion over 2000 years ago when Arahat Mahinda, son of Emperor Asoka of India, converted King Devanampiyatissa to Buddhism. For Buddhists, this hallowed day of poson is second only to Wesak in terms of importance. Although Poson is celebrated throughout the island, the major ceremonies are to be found in Anuradhapura and Minhintale. Long lines of devotees dressed in white climb the many steps to the top of the Minhintale hill first to the temple, and them to the dagoba that lie adorn the nearby hillocks. In addition, many devotees climb to the very top of the rock, to the spot where Arahat Mahinda delivered his initial discourses.   
     
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