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Photographer's Note

The Esala Perahera has been held in Kandy every year since the 18th century (although its origins go back to an annual ritual held since the 4th century), so that must make it one of the longest running shows in the world.

The middle of the three elephants in this picture is carrying a casket on its back that contains what many Buddhists say is the most precious item in the world – the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha. The story of the tooth relic is interesting. It is claimed to be the left eye tooth of the Buddha which was taken from the funeral pyre of the Buddha in 543 BC, and in the early 4th century taken from India to Sri Lanka. Indian invaders in the 13th century took it back to India, but a war was fought to bring it back to Sri Lanka. In the 16th century, the Portuguese, in their efforts to convert the Sinhalese to Catholicism, took the tooth away to Goa and pounded it to dust and threw it into the sea. Some books say that the dust reconstituted itself on the sea bed and the tooth flew back to Sri Lanka of its own accord, whilst others say that what the Portuguese took to Goa was only a replica, and the real tooth was still in Kandy. Who knows what the real story is. The British opened the casket containing the tooth in 1815, and said it looked more like a crocodile’s tooth, but nowadays nobody is allowed to see the tooth as it is kept sealed inside a gold casket, inside a series of larger caskets inside a heavily guarded room in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy (except when it is taken out for the Esala Perahera).

The original of this photograph was extremely noisy because there was very little available light (mainly street lights and the light from the flaming torches) and as this had to be taken from some distance away with a telephoto lens, I could not use flash and had to use the highest sensitivity setting on my camera (ISO6400) and still increase the exposure the equivalent of another couple of stops in Photoshop. Then I put this through NeatImage and this is the best result I could manage.

You can see my full gallery of photographs of the Esala Perhera at www.pbase.com/banyanman/kandy_perahera

ahmet54, wishnugaruda, pamastro, kmarscher, thaprem, touristdidi has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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