Sri Lanka’s Peraheras – Sacred Elephant Processions

1 x 52 min

This documentary takes viewers to Sri Lanka – and no Bollywood director could stage it better: In front of the palatial “Temple of the Tooth” in the ancient royal city of Kandy, the sacred elephants wait for the beginning of the festive procession called “Perahera”. Every evening, the country’s holiest relic is carried through the streets. A light and sound show accompanies the ritual procession of the animals, which are revered as sacred. The colorful spectacle evokes memories of royalty and the origins of Buddhism. Tourists are transported into dream worlds of Far Eastern exoticism. During the two-week Perahera, all eyes are on Kandy. But at the same time, in its shadow, the Perahera of Kataragama takes place. In the multi-religious center of the island, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims celebrate the country’s most important god and protector together. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from different denominations and ethnic groups serve as a shining example of how reconciliation, social integration and mutual respect can be possible. While locals and tourists enjoy the staging, animal rights activists protest against the use of elephants in religious processions. However, the veneration of the temple elephants could actually help promote respect towards their cousins in the wild. These animals are endangered worldwide, especially due to the strong increase in demand for ivory.

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