Pilgrimage is one of the oldest traditions of mankind. “Pada Yatra” means “Foot travelling” and is a name for pilgrimages in South Asia in general and for some pilgrimage routes in particular.
In Sri Lanka, there is only one such annual pilgrim’s walk which is called “Pada Yatra”, it’s from Jaffna along the East Coast to Kataragama. Originally, it is believed to have been a journey from Kailash, the nothernmost point of Hindu worship in the Himalayas, to Kataragama in Sri Lanka, which is the southern most point at exactly the same meridian.
The Jaffna-Kataragama foot pilgrimage is practiced by Hindus in particular, even some guests from India join the Sri Lankan Tamil pilgrimage groups during the Pada Yatra season. The pilgrimage groups, usually consisting of of families or friends, are called “kuttams”.Also many Buddhists and some Muslims and Christians take part. The full pilgrimage takes several weeks. It ends at the Esala Perahera in Kataragama, which roughly falls into the first half of August.
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