Vel Festival is one of the most important festivals of Sri Lanka's Tamil community. It celebrates the Hindu war god Skanda also known as Lord Muruga. Colombo festivities usually take place in the last week of July. Devotees in bright clothes take to the streets to hold chariot parades, traditional singing, tinkling bells, and Kavadi—ceremonial offering dance. During the festival, they often perform ritual self-mutilation, piercing their cheeks and other body parts.
The highlight of the festival is the perahera—the procession when a statue is carried in a silver plated chariot drawn by a pair of white bulls. It ends at the Bambalapitiya temple.