The Kandy Esala Perahera, also known as the Festival of the Tooth, is one of the greatest Buddhist holidays in the country, celebrated with elegant costumes. According to the Hindu calendar, a historical procession to pay respect to the Sacred Tooth Relic is held annually in July or August on the Full Moon Poya Day. The festival is all about the local food, decorated elephants, and traditional shows, like fire and whip dances.
The Esala celebrations typically end with a water-cutting ceremony (also called the diya-kepeema ritual), where people literary cut the water to pray for good harvests. Locals believe that the water collected at the diya kaepima is sacred and can get rid of evil. Therefore, they will often collect this water at one spot or sprinkle themselves with it.
The Kandy Esala Perahera claims to be the most splendid visual celebration in Sri Lanka. Its festivities continue for ten days, so don't rush and save at least three days to savor the cultural rituals and explore the World Heritage-listed Kandy.
Note that the festival gets more vibrant and crowded with each day. To get a good viewing spot, you'll have to arrive at least 3-4 hours before the start. Also, if you wish to enter the temples, remember to cover up—you won't be able to go in with your shoulders, waist, or knees exposed. Bringing a sarong or scarf is an excellent solution.