Kandy, Sri Lanka
In 2003, as part of my study of Buddhism, I spent a month in Sri Lanka visiting ancient Buddhist cities and sites. I was in Kandy for a few days of the week-long Esala Perehera. This is the largest festival in the country and is primarily a Buddhist event with ancient island spirits and Hindu elements included. For several nights there are huge parades consisting of more than a hundred elephants covered in caparisons, dancers, drummers, fire handlers, etc. The caparisons or costumes are brightly colored and ornately decorated. At night they are lighted around the head and trunk. On the last day the parade is held during midday.
A holy relic believed to be a tooth from cremated remains of the Buddha is carried in an ornate gold casket on the back of a large temple elephant referred to as the Tusker. The most famous was Raja who died in 1988 at age 75 after carrying the Tooth for 50 years. There is an interesting article about him here: http://socyberty.com/holidays/raja-the-magnificant-tusker/
These photos could have been a lot better. But after stumbling over temple steps and jungle roots throughout Asia, my old Minolta 35mm was too battered to continue repairing. I had just bought a Nikon D70 a week or so before this trip and I was still trying to figure out the controls while trying not to miss any of this spectacular.
You can find more about this event at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Esala_Perahera