Traditional Sri Lankan Kandyan Dancing

Traditional Sri Lankan Kandyan Dancing

Traditional Kandyan dances include the cobra dance, mask dance, the Ginisila, showing power over fire. The entire frenetic and colourful spectacle climaxes with the amazing fire-walking act.

All four men are dressed similarly with a white turban-like headdress with colorful ribbon adorning it and what looks like a red feather at the back. They have long earrings and a wide and ornate collar which drapes over their shoulders and ends in a triangular point at the top of their chest. Below this, they wear a red bodice, trimmed with white and a white sarong which reaches right down to their feet. The drums are the key focus of this act and the step, in time around the stage, keeping a fast drum going all the time sometimes with the accompaniment of the instruments, sometimes without.

The act seamlessly moves into the second act with the instruments and the ladies with the horns departing and two men’s, similarly dressed join with a new set. The new drums are made up of two separate drum skins the size of two tambourines. They too hang from the players’ neck and are played in from of the drummer with the skins facing the audience. They are joined on stage by 3 graceful women with flame-like headdresses and burning oil lamps in each hand (the Puja Natuma). They were a mixture of traditional dances featuring a peacock or vipers and ritual dances such as the Devil Dance (Raksha Natuma) where a frightening devil mask parades ominously across the stage. The dancing was quite bewildering and It is a pretty spectacular which shows the wide diversity of dances and other acts from across different parts of Sri Lanka.

Fire Dancing and Fire Walking

They have fire torches and after blowing a few flames and an impressive display of fire-eating the then rub the fire up and down their bare-chests! As if this is not enough, out come the hot coals and a new set of men calmly walk across them. These acts are also accompanied by the incessant drum beat although it is clear that here, fire is the main act!

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