The water-cutting ceremony (diya-kapum-mangalyaya (Sinhalese) is believed to be a rain-making ceremony and is performed on the last day of the Esala Perahera. When the first rays of sun fall on the river, the Kapuralas or custodians of the four temples draw a circle in water with a sword. The water within that circle is taken to fill the pitchers which are stored in the temple until the following year.

In Hinduism, the ritual of water-cutting (theertham (Tamil) commemorates the washing of the deity and it’s clothes. The priest, along with Skanda’s yantra or instrument, is lowered into the river. He draws a mandala or circle in the riverbed with a sword and then bathes the god’s image. The water used is collected in a vessel and is considered sacred water. After this symbolic exercise, the pilgrims plunge themselves into the sacred stream in the belief that it will wash away their sins.