SummaryA relic is a corporal remain or an object which is worshipped because it has been in physical contact with a holy person. What is common to all relics is that they bring devotees in contact with holy people, even though they are dead. Relics are regarded as powerful and miraculous, and in addition they often legitimate the rulers of a country. It has been said that one of Buddha’s teeth is kept in the Temple of the Tooth, Dalada Maligava, in Kandy in Sri Lanka, and this tooth is said to make people feel the Buddha’s presence. The tooth is also considered one of Buddhism’s most important relics, because it has been in contact with Buddha’s speeches. Furthermore, the tooth has been associated with old Sinhalese kings. Den levende Buddha i Dalada Maligava deals with Sinhalese Buddhists’ religious practice in the Temple of the Tooth. My problem at hand is to analyse why Sinhalese Buddhists travel to the Temple of the Tooth, and what they experience there. I describe who goes to the temple, how, when, and why. I did field research for three months in Sri Lanka, observing and interviewing Sinhalese Buddhists visiting the temple. My assignment starts with an introduction, where I describe Sinhalese Buddhists’ conceptions of pilgrimage, worship of relics and gods, and how to earn religious merit. Thereafter I present the most important official rituals connected to the Temple of the Tooth. I describe which rituals the pilgrims perform in the temple complex, and my main discussion focuses on what motivates the Sinhalese Buddhists to travel to the Temple of the Tooth. According to my study, the pilgrims are motivated mainly by four factors. The first motivation factor is salvation, nirvana (nibbana) or rebirth in a better life. The other motivation factor is instrumental help in this lifetime, meaning that the pilgrims hope the rituals they perform will prevent bad things from happening, and promote good things. The third motivation factor is nationalistic, many pilgrims want to maintain and strengthen the Sinhalese cultural and religious traditions. These informants focus on the tooth’s role in tradition and its relation to the royal power. This focus strengthens their national feeling. Sinhalese Buddhists believe that they are personally and nationally responsible for the protection of the Buddhist tradition, and therefore they must show their respect to the tooth relic. The pilgrims are also motivated by their desire to “experience the holy”, as the tooth relic is said to be “the living Buddha”. The pilgrimage is unique for every devotee, and each pilgrim is motivated by a different combination of factors. Exactly where the pilgrim worships in the temple complex, and at which time he/she visits, depend on the main motivation for visiting the Temple of the Tooth.