Agoda.com, Asia’s leading hotel booking site and part of Nasdaq-listed Priceline Group (Nasdaq:PCLN), is offering great deals on hotels in the northern town of Nallur, Sri Lanka, for the annual Nallur Festival, an exuberant and colorful celebration with great spiritual significance for local Hindus. This year the festival will kick off on August 12.
The festival is based around the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple, one of the most important temples in Sri Lanka. It was originally founded in 948 AD, but has been rebuilt and moved several times until the present construction was erected in 1749, with additions and improvements added in the following years. The last major renovations were in 1964 when the Grand Hall was upgraded, and in 2011 when a 30-meter gopuram, or ornately decorated tower, was unveiled.
The festival itself is held annually to honor Skanda (also known as Murugan, Dhandapani, and many other names), the Hindu god of war and victory. It’s one of the longest festivals you’re likely to attend, actually, and takes place over 25 days. This includes parades, food, music, performances and symbolic rounds of the temple made by crowds holding aloft effigies representing Skanda, his holy spear, or his consorts. Special ceremonies called pujas are also performed by priests, and the festival’s grand finale is a boisterous parade, where thousands of devotees pull an elaborate chariot and its rider – dressed to resemble Skanda – through town to the temple and place him on an ornate thrown. The act is said to bring the god closer to his people, witnessing their devotion, love and purity.