Immersed in the cultural heartland of Kandy, Sri Lanka, stands a hallowed sanctuary that echoes with centuries of devotion and reverence – the Temple of the Tooth Relic, known locally as Sri Dalada Maligawa. This remarkable temple holds one of Buddhism’s most precious relics, the sacred tooth of the Buddha. Step into a world steeped in spiritual significance as we embark on a journey to explore the history, rituals, and deep-rooted religious fervor surrounding this majestic temple.
Legend has it that after the cremation of Gautama Buddha, one of his teeth was rescued from the funeral pyre by a devotee and smuggled into Sri Lanka in the 4th century CE. Recognizing its divine significance, Sri Dalada Maligawa was constructed in the royal palace complex of Kandy, becoming the ultimate sanctuary for this revered relic.
The Temple of the Tooth Relic holds paramount importance for Buddhists worldwide. It is believed that possessing the sacred tooth brings prosperity, protection, and blessings to the country. Sri Lankan monarchs have long revered the tooth relic, as its possession legitimized their rule, symbolizing their close connection to the Buddha’s teachings and their role as protectors of Buddhism.
As you approach the temple, be enthralled by its grandeur and architectural splendor. The entrance is guarded by two stone elephants, their colossal presence signifying the temple’s sacred nature. Intricate woodwork, delicate carvings, and colorful paintings adorn the temple’s interiors, reflecting the island’s rich artistic heritage. The octagonal Paththirippuwa (Octagon), an iconic structure within the complex, offers breathtaking views of both the temple and the picturesque Kandy Lake.
At Sri Dalada Maligawa, a seamless blend of faith and tradition unfolds through the daily rituals performed by custodians known as the “Diyawadana Nilame” and the “Maligawa Peramuna.” Visitors can witness awe-inspiring ceremonies such as the morning and evening “Pooja” (offering), accompanied by the rhythmic beats of drums and the soul-stirring sounds of traditional music. The pinnacle of the temple’s annual rituals is the majestic Esala Perahera, a vibrant procession where the sacred tooth relic is paraded through the streets, captivating thousands of devotees and spectators.
The tooth relic itself is enshrined within a golden casket, encased in a series of seven “dagoba” (stupa)-shaped caskets, each progressively larger and adorned with precious gems. Devotees flock from all corners of the globe to catch a glimpse of the revered relic, believing it to hold the power to bestow blessings, heal ailments, and bring inner peace. Its presence within the temple complex elevates the spiritual energy, drawing countless pilgrims and offering solace to the faithful.