The enchanting land of Sri Lanka is a place that boasts of vibrant traditions. The classical dance culture of the country colourfully portrays the majestic beauty of the island’s rich heritage. If you get the chance to witness a dance performance in Sri Lanka, you will indeed be mesmerized!
Sri Lankan classical dance can be classified in to three main styles: Kandyan dances (Uda Rata Natum), low country/ Ruhunu dances (Pahatha Rata Natum) and Sabaragamuwa dances (Sabaragamuwa natum).
The three main classical dance forms vary in nature. The movements, gestures as well as the instruments used in the dance performances mark these differences. Geta Bera is the drum that is used in Kandyan dances. Yak Bera is used in low country dances and Davula is used in Sabaragamuwa dances.
The Kandyan dance is what is widely considered as classical Sri Lankan dancing today. Kandyan dance includes the five main types of ves, naiyandi, uddekki, pantheru, and vannams. Among these, the ves dance is the most popular one.
Dancing Culture in Low Country/Ruhunu dances
Low country dancers wear masks, which makes this type of dancing quite unique. These dance acts, which are often called ‘Devil Dances’ are believed to ward off evil spirits. There is a belief in Sri Lanka that certain types of illnesses and sicknesses are caused by evil spirits. Low country dance performers attempt to chase away these evil spirits by performing in a thovilaya, a stunning ritualistic ceremony. The performers wear elaborate masks that depict faces of demons. When you are travelling in the country with Green Holiday Centre, be sure to visit a few souvenir shops and find some small, elaborate devil masks that you will be able to carry home with you. (Don’t worry, these faces won’t scare you!)
Sabaragamuwa dance performances generally take place in the city of Ratnapura, in the Sabaragamuwa Province. These dance acts are performed as part of the worship rituals by the devotees of God Saman.