July is the first full monsoon month and therefore off-season in the south-west of Sri Lanka. However, the eastern half of the island and the Cultural Triangle and almost all national parks are sunny and dry, due to their location in the slipstream of the mountains. With perfect climatic conditions in those areas and because of famous folkloristic events in July, this month is of particular interest for cultural travellers in Sri Lanka.
Public Holidays in Sri Lanka July 2015
Two of the three public holidays in Sri Lanka in July 2015 are Buddhist Poya Days, the other one is the highest Muslim Feast at the end of the Fasting Month Ramazan:
Kataragama Festival dates 2015
For religious locals, July to September are the main festival season in Sri Lanka. The world-famous Kataragama Festival, which has officially begun silently, with rituals in the forests already two weeks ago, will reach it’s climax with parades and gatherings in the second fortnight of July. Then the local Esala Perahera in honour or Lord Skandha (this year already starting in the Sinhalese month Poson and only ending on the first day of the month Esala) will be celebrated with lots of spectacular folklore, joined by Hindu and Buddhist devotees alike and also by some Muslims.
17th July: Flag-hoisting starting the festival fortnight with daily processions
31th July: Maha Perahera in the last night is the greatest Kataragama pageant
1st August: Water Cutting ceremony during daytime hours is the end event
The main Kataragama Esala Festival begins with the Flag-hoisting ceremony. During this Kataragama festival fortnight, the sacred diagram representing Lord Kataragama is retrieved from the Kataragama main shrine, and paraded through the streets on top of an elephant in order to carry it to the Valli shrine and back. Kataragama’s Yantra symbol is secret and not publicly displayed but hidden in a casket.
On the very last day of the festival, during the Maha Perahera, the Yantra is left overnight at the Valli shrine. The official priests will conduct the rituals in silence, covering their mouths with white cloth. However, Kataragama is known to be Sri Lanka’s most enthusiastic and ecstatic festival, accompanied by pilgrim activities such as body piercing, fire walking and Kavadi demon dances.
Sloth Bear Season in Yala in July
June to September is Palu fruit season. Because Palu (Rayan in Hindi) is the Sloth Bear’s favourite fruit, the shy animals can be seen more often then usual openly in front of Palu trees. This is why particularly July and August are also Sri Lanka’s main “Sloth Bear season”, namely in the south-east, but also in Wasgomuwa National Park near Polonnaruwa.
Trincomalee Whale Watching season
Due to the local anti-monsoon climate (dry period at the same time as southwest coast monsoon season) June to September is the the touristic high season at Sri Lanka’s North East Coast, with lots of sunshine hours at Passikudah Beach and Nilaweli Beach, offering perfect snorkelling and diving opportunities.
The waters around Trincomalee are inhabited by Blue Whales, Sperm Whales and Dolphins. Boat trips are arranged for Whale Watching enthusiasts almost daily in July and August off the coast of Trincomalee.
Hikkaduwa Beach Festival in July
During the rainy season, the south-western beaches of Sri Lanka are less crowded. However, there is one exception to the rule. The Hikkaduwa Beach Festival, usually held on 5 days in between July or August, is attracting Sri Lankans and foreign guests alike. There will be something persons of all age groups, food stalls and markets, sand-castle building, movie night, jazz festival etc.
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