The Esala Perahera is a procession that crosses the entire city of Kandy, the spiritual capital of Sri Lanka, to pay tribute to one of the most important relics of Buddhist spirituality: the sacred tooth of Buddha, kept in the main temple of the city. During the first ten days of August, thousands of pilgrims from all over the world flock into the streets to take part in prayers and ritual dances. This festival is expected throughout the year by the population; taking part is a privilege and it takes months of preparation to the youth to learn choreographies and music thoroughly.
The harnesses used for the elephants parading, alternating with groups of dancers, are a symbol of majesty, strength and prosperity. With the increase in tourism even tickets for the sacred procession have suffered a sharp rise: today to get the best seats in the stands, positioned along the main street, you need to pay 7,000 rupees (the equivalent of about € 42) and with an average salary of 1,500 rupees (approximately € 9) the best seats can be purchased only by foreign tourists. Local residents continue to follow the procession across the street overcrowding spaces beyond the fences.