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Deepavali - A festival of lights

Deepavali or Diwali is a religious festival of Hinduism held annually around the world in celebration of the spiritual triumph of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. Religious festival of Hinduism celebrated every year between mid-October and November in Sri Lanka.
Deepavali is a colorful celebration of lighting with diyas, special candles and lamps, colored sand, home decoration, fireworks, worship ceremonies, shopping, gifts, observing religious rituals, feasting on sweet meats for over five days. Deepavali celebrations are dedicated to Lakshmi the goddess of prosperity of wealth.
Sri Lanka also celebrates Deepavali around the island mainly in the capital city Colombo and other cities such as Jaffna, Trincomalee and Nuwara-Eliya where many Hindus devotes reside. Kovils / Hindu temples across the island are decorated with dazzling lights and colorful garlands symbolizing light over darkness. The visitors to Sri Lanka during the festival time will have the opportunity to partake in the festivities.

Il Poya

Every full moon day in Sri Lanka is a public holiday. Full moon day is named as Poya. Buddhists around the country observer’s religious rituals such as offering flowers, lighting oil lamps and incense sticks. Ill poya falls in the month of November and marks the end of rainy season and the conclusion of the three-month retreat. During which Buddhist nuns and monks need to stay in their retreats. This day marks the end of “Katina Pinkama”, a ceremony of offering a new robe to monastics, held after three months of “Wassana” (rainy season). Further, Ill Poya is important for Buddhists as a series of important events such as announcement of the future Buddha, conducting the first Buddhist missionary and passing away of the chief disciple Sariputta.
November in Sri Lanka does not merely limit to festivals. The northeast monsoons begin in October and continue till January resulting in heavy rainfalls in north and eastern parts of the island. During the Northeast monsoons many tourists tends to keep away, but the southern and western parts of the island are best to enjoy the endless sunshine with endless leisure activities. Hence, Sri Lanka is well-known as a year-round holiday destination lying in the tropics.

Things to do and places to visit during November and around

Being blessed with a myriad of natural resources endless coast line with pristine beaches and splendid heritage. Sri Lanka offers multiple activities year around. The South and Western coastlines remain best for tourism from October to March.

Sunny Beaches

The golden sandy beaches along the coastal way from Kalpitiya on the northwest coastline to Tangalle on the southern coastline attract millions of tourists from around the world especially Europeans to escape the winter.
Negombo a coastal city lying 35 kms North of Colombo and 6 kms from the Bandaranaike International Airport, the island’s main international airport. Its sandy beaches along with many star-class hotels attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year to taste Dutch infused seafood and lifestyle.
Located 165 kms north of Colombo, Kalpitiya is popular for dolphin and whale-watching without sailing out to deep seas. This dolphin and whale-watching season starts in mid-October and lasts till the end of March.
Mount Lavinia, Beruwala, Bentota, Hikkaduwa, Unawatuna, Mirissa and Tangalle, account for the rest of the golden beaches on the western and southern coasts all of which are located south of Colombo.
Mirissa is yet another beach destination most popular for whale-watching. It is a coastal township with a beautiful small rocky beach located on the southern coast, 145km south of Colombo. Whale and dolphin watching, river trips, snorkelling and birdwatching are some of the activities you could do while being in Mirissa. The best time for whale watching in the sea off the Mirissa harbour is from November to April. During this season, the ocean is usually warm & calm. There are instances where these magnificent mammals are observed in October as well.
In the sea off Mirissa and Dondra Head of deep south of Sri Lanka, you can see Blue Whales, Bryde's Whales, Sperm Whales, and Fin Whales while common dolphins such as Bottle-nose dolphins, Spinner dolphins and stripped dolphins can also be sighted. Sometimes you can see turtles and various kinds of fish species such as bluefin tuna and flying fish in and around the Mirissa area.

Gangaramaya Temple

Sri Lanka boasts an incredible religious heritage created and passed down over 2500 years since Buddhism was introduced to the island.
Gangaramaya is a Buddhist temple lying in the centre of the Colombo city and it is the most visited temple in the island’s capital. The Temple has a history of over 120 years. It was established in 1885 by Venerable Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Nayaka Thera at a time when Buddhist and cultural resurgence were much needed as the country was under colonial rule.
The temple is famous for the Nawam Perahera and its Vesak festival which is the Island’s largest and the most colourful Buddhist festival held annually.
Annual Navam Perahera the most important cultural pageant in Colombo dates back to 1979. It is held in the month of February displaying the rich religious and cultural tradition of Sri Lanka. It is a fascinating show replete with whip crackers, fire dancers, flag bearers, hundreds of beautifully caparisoned elephants, traditional Uda Rata, Pahatha Rata and Sabaragamuwa dancers, drummers and flutists. A unique feature of the Navam Perahera from its inception was the procession of bhikkus.

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