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* Kataragama Esala festival begins in Southern Sri Lanka
Wed, Jul 22, 2009, 07:41 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

July 22, Colombo: One of the most elegant historical cultural pageants in Sri Lanka, the annual Kataragama Esala festival began yesterday with ceremonial religious activities.

The custodian of the Ruhunu-Kataragama Maha Devale (Basnayake Nilame) Shashendra Rajapaksa said the first Perahera of this year's festival will parade the streets in the evening today.

The annual walking on burning coal, the most remarkable event in the festival will take place on August 3rd, he added.

The final Randoli Perahera will parade the streets on August 5th followed by the Diya Kapeema (water cutting ceremony) on August 6 in the Menik River.

The highest number of devotees from the North and East for the festival was reported this year after several decades due to the peaceful environment in the country, the custodian said.

The people from the North and East reach Kataragama by walking as a ritual each year to participate in the festival.

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