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Kandyan Dancing

Ves Dance

A unique , typically Kandyan or up-country form of dancing that symbolizes the traditional Sinhalese dance. Since the people of Sri Lanka have always been inclined towards ritual and ceremony from the olden days, this from of kandyan dance is performed at religious processions and ceremonies and at all other kinds of occasions and ceremonies. The dancer wear elaborate head dresses while his face remains visible. They also wear sparking adornments for ears neck and arms and breast plates glistening with shiny bead and frilled cloth. 

The aesthetics of Kandyan dance and it's rhythmic vigorous movements and foot work can be really appreciated in it's original setting, the "Kohomba Kankariya", a Kandyan ritual dance, performed in honor of the God Kohomba of the Kohomba tree -( Margosa, a tree of medicinal value) and to invoke his blessings. There are over 30 ceremonies and over 50 dancers dance and whirl on a magnificently decorated pavilion. Attired in the traditional Kandyan dance costume. The ritual itself lasts for a week and reaches a climax in the final night and the morning after. 

No women danced in the original ritual, but today, with the emergence of the theatrical women too participate in the dance, a development which has softened the masculine moves of this dynamic dance form.

Vannam Dance

Another category of dance entertainment of the Kandyan is known as the "Vannama", which is a beautiful combination of poetry and dance. The Vannama depicts the life in nature around you, and are descriptive dances mannered after the animals and birds whose movements they mimic. The dancer moves to and intricate pattern of rhythms which marks only a superficial attempt to portray the movements of the subject of the song of poem. Movements of the subject of the song of poem. There are 18 Vannam patterns, or song - classes. Some excellent examples of this dance are,
  • Gjaga Vannama - The Elephant Dance (accompanied to a slow, dignified song.
  • Ukussa Vannama - Hawk dance
  • Mayura Vannama - Peacock dance
  • Thuraga Vannama - Horse dance     read more

The Esala Perehera (Kandyan Dancing)

This ceremony is a procession and is one of the most spectacular pageants in South-Asia. Once a year, the holy Tooth Relic of the Lord Buddha is brought out of the enshrined Palace or Temple and carried along the streets of Kandy , so that public homage could be paid. The ceremonial procession streams along the streets for 10 nights, the circuits increasing as well as the grand trappings so that in the final night it is one of the most splendid sights in Sri Lanka .

The traditional Kandyan dancers, attired in frilled costumes and glistening beads and breast plates, dance, skip and whirl to the vibrant drum beats, their anklets and headdress sparkling in the golden glow of torches.

Udekki Dance. Udekki is a very prestigious dance. Its name comes from the udekki, a small lacquered hand drum in the shape of an hourglass, about seven and half inches (18 centimeters) high, believed to have been given to people by the gods. The two drumskins are believed to have been given by the god Iswara, and the sound by Visnu; the instrument is said to have been constructed according to the instructions of Sakra and was played in the heavenly palace of the gods. It is a very difficult instruments to play. The dancer sings as he plays, tightening the strings to obtain variations of pitch.

Pantheru Dance. The pantheruwa is an instrument dedicated to the goddess Pattini. It resembles a tambourine (without the skin) and has small cymbals attached at intervals around its circumference. The dance is said to have originated in the days of Prince Siddhartha, who became Buddha. The gods were believed to use this instrument to celebrate victories in war, and Sinhala kings employed pantheru dancers to celebrate victories in the battlefield. The costume is similar to that of the uddekki dancer, but the pantheru dancer wears no beaded jacket and substitutes a silk handkerchief at the waist for the elaborate frills of the uddekki dancer.