Fading Murals of Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare

Information is pretty thin stuff, unless mixed with experience said the American author Clarence Day and so it was with the Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare  located off the Kurunegala-Narammala-Madampe Rd, Sri Lanka. We had been warned that the climb to the top was tedious but I was glad that I huffed and puffed and dragged my aching, creaking joints to the higher level of the temple.  Much of the murals are fading and decaying but the grandeur and the colours of what is left of the frescoes in the relic chamber (Datu Mandiraya) of this temple was well worth the climb.  

Mural of possibly Sariputta or Mogallana Arahat thera.Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Mural of possibly Sariputta or Mogallana Arahat thera.Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Historically the temple roots go back to King Devanampiya Tissa (B.C. 89-77), who is supposed to be the first person to convert when Buddhism was introduced to Lanka by Emperor Asoka. An interesting fact I gleaned after returning was that Kingship was founded in Ceylon [Sri Lanka] by Asoka with the consecration of Devanampiya Tissa. This is a hypotheses put forward by Senarath Paravitana, our pioneering archeologist and epigraphist. The temple was later renovated by King Walagamba (89-77 BC) and the paintings are supposed to belong to the Kandyan period.

Mural of possibly Sariputta or Mogallana Arahat thera.Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The opposing right side mural of possibly Sariputta or Mogallana Arahat thera.Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Ananda Coomaraswamy in his classic work Mediaeval Sinhalese Art describes in detail how the natural pigments were prepared by Kandyan artists. White was derived from hydrous magnesite obtained from  a cave known as the makul gal lena in Vetekgama near Maturata. Red came from Cinnabar, which is not known to occur in Lanka and says it must have been imported. Yellow from gamboge (goraka)  from the gokata tree (Garcinia morella). Black  is lamp black and was made from grinding the juice from the jack fruit, Kekuna oil (oil from Canarium zeylanicum) and rosin (hal-dummala, from the hal tree Vateria acuminata) and then mixing it with shreds of cotton cloth and setting on fire this mixture in a clean earthen pot with a second pot inverted above it. The soot is deposited on the top pot and then collected. Blue was rarely seen it seems, but was obtained from the indigo plant. Green was known as pacca and was made by mixing blue and yellow. Shades of colours were obtained mixing red, black and blue with white to form pink, grey and light blue respectively.

Coomaraswamy comments that a characteristic feature was the outlining of all forms with a clear black line: this outline and the occasional use of small quantities of green or white in the detail of an ornament gives just the necessary softening required to harmonize the strong reds and yellows and reduce their extreme brilliancy. This can be seen in the executing of the above two murals.

A fire in 1997 has damaged number of paintings and a wooden Makara Thorana at the temple and treasure hunters have got away with the Sacred Footprint of the Buddha and some of the statues at the Viharaya. Maybe the statue in the middle in the photo below is a replacement as it doesn’t seem to blend in harmony with the other two statues in the relic chamber.

The inner relic chamber. Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihara, Kurunegala. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The inner relic chamber. Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihara, Kurunegala. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The Makara Thorana at the entrance  too looks as if it has also been redone.

The makara thorana at the entrance to the relic chamber. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The makara thorana at the entrance to the relic chamber. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

However, the Jataka stories — stories of Buddha’s previous lives on the Vihara walls are fast fading. The stories are visually retold in long panels and there is a small strip that is just sufficient to give a short explanatory note of the Jataka story. The Vessantara Jataka on the panels on the outer wall of the relic chamber tells the story of one of Buddha’s past lives — about a compassionate prince, Vessantara, who gives away everything he owns, including his children, thereby displaying the virtue of perfect charity.

The first two panels from the Vessantara Jatakaya. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The first two panels from the Vessantara Jatakaya. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The first panel probably shows the people requesting the King Sanjaya to send Prince Vessantara away from the kingdom as he gave away the magical white elephant that brought rain to the kingdom to envoys from Kalinga, a neighbhouring village.The second panel shows Prince Vessantara’s wife Queen Madri in conversation with a bear breasted servant.

Panel with the magical white elephant being led away. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Panel with the magical white elephant being led away. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The panel with the magical white elephant adds to the panorama but here it is the observer that has to move to follow the story while the mural stays static.

Panels showing people carrying away items given away by Prince Vessantara. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Panels showing people carrying away items given away by Prince Vessantara. Photo copyright Chulie de SilvThe upper level where the relic chamber is situated is reached by two narrow wooden staircases and there are trap doors that were probably there to protect the relics.

The air is cool and tranquil and the view is lush and green from the higher level where the main Stupa enshrining Buddha’s relics are located. Historical records attribute the bringing of the relics to  Brahmin Hambinarayana from Vaishali. At the lower ground zero level, the Chief Priest had displayed some relics in a transparent casket. They looked like minute bone fragments.

The stupa on the top level. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The stupa on the top level. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Next to the 3 storey relic chamber is a “Tampita Vihara” which is  a shrine room built on pillars.

The 3 story relic chamber is next to the Tampita Vihara. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The 3 story relic chamber is next to the Tampita Vihara. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

We might not have known the importance of this temple but the people from the vicinity were all there on this full moon Poya day.

Young devotees walk up the stone steps to worship the Buddha Statue at the temple on the top. Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihara, Kurunegala. 6 Dec.2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Young devotees walk up the stone steps to worship the Buddha Statue at the temple on the top. Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihara, Kurunegala. 6 Dec.2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

Many of Sri Lanka’s temples have decaying historic murals as this one.

The shrine room, Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

The shrine room, Bihalpola Raja Maha Vihare. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva.

As Ananda Coomaraswamy said: “The value of these paintings lies not merely in their beauty and charm as decorations, but in the fact that they are priceless historical documents that could npt be reproduced under modern conditions.”

Oxford Baths, Well Baths & GNT

A couple of my friends have asked me what’s an Oxford Bath after I mentioned it in my blog Benny’s Point. Very simply it is what these boys are doing in Dhaka — bathing in the nude.

Boys in Dhaka having Oxford baths in a city lake. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Boys in Dhaka having Oxford baths in a city lake. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

I had heard this term when I was a kid in the 1950s when indoor bathrooms with piped in water were not so common. My aunts would go to the front house “Mangala Giri” saying they are going for an Oxford Bath in the closed bathroom.

A year or so ago, my memory was refreshed when I saw it on the heading of an article by Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala titled “An Oxford bath for Sri Lankan Diplomacy.” In this article he gives probably the origin of the term “Oxford Bath.” “An old joke, shared between Oxford and Cambridge Universities, relates how an elderly Cambridge Professor visited his Professor friend in Oxford. It was a hot summer day and the two men decided to swim in the nude in a secluded spot along the Isis River. Suddenly a bevy of women undergraduates rode past on bicycles. The Cambridge Professor hastily grabbed his towel and wore it round his waist. The Oxford Professor, however, frantically wrapped his towel around his head hiding his face. As the giggling girls retreated the Cambridge Professor asked the Oxford don why he only covered his face. The reply he received was, “Well, in Oxford, some of us are better recognized by our faces”!

Boys  bath in a shallow stream, Kilinochchi. Bathing in the open is always more fun than in a closed bathroom. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Boys bath in a shallow stream, Kilinochchi. Bathing in the open is always more fun than in a closed bathroom. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Thus Amb. Dhanapala says throughout the English-speaking world, the “Oxford bath” has come to mean a bath in the nude. But only we oldies remember this term and it is now probably not in use now!. Even when we had bathrooms, a well bath in the sun, the cool refreshing water sans chlorine was my choice.

The well was an important water source and still is for many in Sri Lanka, who do not have piped water. Wells and access to water were also high in the priority for many people resettling after the ending of the war. Seeing this abandoned well in a property next to the hotel we stayed In Jaffna in 2009 was very poignant. I remembered my own childhood and many happy hours at the well, as children and then as teenagers with our neighbhour Dayanathi  and “girlie talks” amidst dousing ourselves with buckets of cold, refreshing water.

ffna., Sri Lanka  1 Sep 2009. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

An abandoned well in Jaffna., Sri Lanka 1 Sep 2009. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

My Great-grandma’s house had an inside bathroom but the domestics had to carry water from the well and fill huge vats inside for anyone who wanted to bathe inside. While we had baths inside when we were very small, as soon as we were old enough we would bath at the well. Even after a sea bath at Hikkaduwa, we’d rush to the well and pour buckets of fresh water to wash the sticky salt out.

In Pandura we were told to bath with only 20 buckets of water -10 first, soap your self and 10 more. Otherwise, we were warned we’ll catch our death with pneumonia. These dire warnings along with the directive was often totally ignored. Ceclin our maid/cook, the majordomo at that time was not averse to keeping an ear cocked while we were at the well. She knew me too well and would yell  from inside the kitchen, “Chulie Baby, are you bathing to soak your bones!” (In Sinhala — Ata pegennakang nanawada?). Many years later when I met her she still called me “baby” and had not lost her sense of humour.

Cecilin our maid, laughs remembering our childhood pranks. Panadura, Sri Lanka..Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Cecilin our maid, laughs remembering our childhood pranks. Panadura, Sri Lanka..Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Village life in some parts of Lanka has still not changed. For many, the trek to the river or stream or even a man made water tank is a daily ritual. This often happens mid-day, like the man in the photo above at Mahdangasweva. Or  the bath is at the end of the day, when all work is done.

A woman returns after an evening bath in a stream at Mahavillachiya, Sri Lanka. 22 April 2008. Photograph© Chulie de Silva.

A woman returns after an evening bath in a stream at Mahavillachiya, Sri Lanka. 22 April 2008. Photograph© Chulie de Silva.

My male friends would schedule trips to villagers around the times these women bathe and referred to these times as GNT — in Sinhalese meaning Ganu ( women) Nana ( bathing) Times.

You may as well ask Why? because the bathing costume was a sarong or a wide piece of cloth, called the “Diya Redda” ( literally the Water/wet Cloth).  This they wore covering the breasts and reaching to knee level. Once wet, the cloth clung to the body — need I say more?

A girl returns from a bath in the stream wearing a "diya redda" Heeloya, Sri Lanka. 16 April 2008. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A girl returns from a bath in the stream wearing a “diya redda” Heeloya, Sri Lanka. 16 April 2008. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Anuradhapura Revisited at Dawn

Tissa Weva at Dawn. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

To walk along the banks of the Tissa Weva, Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka before dawn breaks, is to walk with thousands of ghosts from the past . The soft breeze gently wafts around you wrapping you in tales of the past.

Checking the breakfast menu on the Weva. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

It’s hard not to let your mind wander imagining the glorious city as it once stood in its splendor. The gentle voice of the priest offering morning prayers at the sacred Bo-Tree ( Sri Maha Bodhiya) must have happened over a million times but yet is no different today.

Devotees at the Sri Maha Bodhiya, Anuradhapura. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

As one ages does one turn more to the protection of a religion?

Listening to the morning sermon. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Back in Tagore country, I think of this piece of his writing as my mind wanders with my pics of Anuradhapura.

I feel I want to quit this constant ageing of mind and body, with incessant argument and nicety concerning ancient decaying things, and to feel the joy of a free and vigorous life; to have,–be they good or bad,–broad, unhesitating, unfettered ideas and aspirations, free from everlasting friction between custom and sense, sense and desire, desire and action.

If only I could set utterly and boundlessly free this hampered life of mine, I would storm the four quarters and raise wave upon wave of tumult all round; I would career away madly, like a wild horse, for very joy of my own speed! But I am a Bengali, not a Bedouin! I go on sitting in my corner, and mope and worry and argue. I turn my mind now this way up, now the other–as a fish is fried–and the boiling oil blisters first this side, then that.

Let it pass. Since I cannot be thoroughly wild, it is but proper that I should make an endeavour to be thoroughly civil. Why foment a quarrel between the two?

Rabindranath Tagore, 31st Jaistha (June) 1892.

Say It! Look@: A Virtual Youth Commons for Sri Lanka

Iresha Dilhani of Mahavillachiya, North Central Province one of the beneficiaries of taking Internet to rural Sri Lanka. Photograph (c) Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World/WB

Communicate it’s your right to shape your world  

Say what you want to say, look at what others are saying; learn, network, communicate and shape the world you are going to live in. This is the message going out to youth as the World Bank Colombo office launches its Say it! Look@ program on 1 May on Channel ETV  8:00 to 8:30 p.m. 

The program is a convergence of new social media and the established old media of television and newspapers. The rationale is to provide an interactive space on the Web, as well as through an introductory monthly TV documentary a virtual Youth Commons where Youth can express their opinions, join in discussions, interact and build networks. 

The Specific Objectives are to: 

  • create awareness of social media
  • Provide a dialogue space for youth to discuss among themselves and with professionals key issues that have an effect on their lives.
  • Develop skills as “I reporters”
  • Provide an opportunity to link with peers worldwide, network and expand their horizons.

The  Say It! Look@ blog is the pivotal link combining the old media – the once a month TV program to the new media blog where youth are invited to participate by writing blog pieces, and short responses via SMS etc. The best of the blog entries as well as a summary of activities will be featured as an article on the print edition of the blog aggregate Kottu and the Sunday Leader newspaper. 

Three friends at the World Bank supported IT lab at the Advanced Technological Institute Jaffna. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

We live in an interconnected world where growth is exponential. Social media and the growth in telecommunication technologies are brining changes that we in developing countries need to explore and take advantage of. We are told that very soon the chip on your mobile phone will be more powerful than the one in your desktop computer now. Sri Lanka has already some ongoing initiatives to use social media for development like the e-Sri Lanka project. (See links below) However there is room for us to do more.But what else can we use it for? Can we use it to improve English writing skills through blogs? Can the diaspora act as mentors to help students to improve their English skills by responding and correcting blog posts? Can people who are very concerned about poverty in developing countries make an individual contribution to make development more inclusive? Will communications between students along with developed and less developed strengthen the learning process? 

Arjunan, a young medical student of Jaffna University told me last September about the dearth of text books for their studies. He however, as many of the youth are  Facebook fans. Could he or his fellow undergraduate link up with peers to discuss online medical case studies or seek advice from the many Sri Lankan doctors working abroad? Will the expatriates be willing to share their knowledge and extend a hand to these young undergraduates? 

In the early 2000’s when Sri Lanka tried to take the Internet to rural users we asked “Why only TV for the rural users, why not Internet?” The same argument we made then still holds true for Social Media. 

• Provides access to vast information resources
• Evidence of interest exists – people are blogging, on Facebook, tweeting
• A means to communicate information to the outside world
• A means to build networks among like-minded individuals/groups. 

I strongly believe that the power is with us as individuals to make life what we want it to be. This invitation is to you the youth, as well as those young at heart, and other interested organizations to participate, be guest bloggers, share your knowledge and use this space and help Sri Lanka leap frog into the future.  

If you would like to participate in this program and be a guest blogger write to: cdesilva@worldbank.org 

For more information, please see:  

Iresha Dilhani’s Blog 

Meshing Up Mahavilachchiya. Horizon Lanka Foundation, Sri Lanka 

e-Sri Lanka transforming a nation through ICT  

e-Swabhimani awards: giving life to digital creativity in Sri Lanka  

Sri Lanka’s e-Society Program shines at World Bank’s Innovation Fair  

Pitstop in Puttalam

 

Puttalam, situated about 80 km north of Colombo, has been lashed by severe storms today that damaged over 1000 houses, destroyed completely another 500. I am not sure if  it was a storm like this that drifted the sailing vessel of one of the greatest Arab traveler of the medieval times to land in the Puttalam lagoon in 1344.  He was non other than Ibn Battuta,  the  native of Tangiers in Morocco.  He had set out for the traditional pilgrimage to Mecca,  got bitten by the travel bug and continued to roam for some thirty years a  record 75,000 miles covering all Muslim countries except central Persia, Armenia and Georgia.  

Travellers in the desert. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Travellers in the desert. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Battuta’s  record of his travels the Rihla is one of the most famous travel journals.   

“First, though the book is commonly referred to as “the Rihla,” that” is not its title, properly speaking, but its genre. (The title is Tuhfat al-Nuzzar fi Ghara’ib al-Amsar wa-‘Aja’ib al-Asfar, or A Gift to Those Who Contemplate the Wonders of Cities and the Marvels of Traveling.) The Prophet Muhammad’s traditional injunction to “seek knowledge, even as far as China” had the effect of legitimating travel, or even wanderlust, and, in the Islamic middle ages, gave rise to the concept of al-rihla fi talab al-‘ilm, travel in search of knowledge. In Islamic North Africa in the 12th to 14th centuries, as paper became increasingly widely available, educated men began to pen and circulate first-hand descriptions of their pilgrimages the Holy Cities of Makkah and Madinah. ( Editors of the Longest Hajj by Douglas Bullis)”.

In medieval Sri Lanka  travellers’ rest stops were called Ambalama’s and were made of stone and wood pillars. The peripatetics  may have  cooled off in a nearby stream, had their home wrapped parcel of food , chewed their packet of betel, snoozed on a stone slab in an Ambalama before proceeding on their journey. 

 Now, couple of centuries down the line from Battuta’s day, we are spoilt for choice. There are inns, cafes, the good old colonial relics the Rest Houses and an abundance of little kades or  wayside boutiques that carry name boards grandly denoting it is a  Hotels.  These please note are quite different from the star class variety.  “Hotel” is a term used  quite generously on name boards, but basically they are pitstop cafes catering for travellers, truckers -lodging is not always available.  This one we stopped at was on the Puttalam- Anuradhapura  road. 

Fresh young coconuts compete with Coca Cola to quench the thirst of travellers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Fresh young coconuts compete with Coca Cola to quench the thirst of travellers. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The first to catch my attention in the “Hotel” was Somaratne.   He was a little shy. I put it down to to a reluctance to be photogrpahed and he did gradually thaw out to tell me that he was 71 years old and that he was from Wariyapola and had migrated to Puttalam for work. I asked “why” and he looked at me as if to say you shouldn’t be asking that question and replied “you go where the work is.” I was too busy trying to focus on him, I didn’t  notice his injured eye at first, and saw it only when I had a look at the photograph I had taken.  “I fell on a sharp object, and although Dr. Seimon, the famous Kandy  doctor tried to save it, he couldn’t do much,” he said with a wry smile. 

The economic migrant Somaratne. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

The economic migrant Somaratne. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Any takers for veg rolls? Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Any takers for veg rolls? Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Uvais making the popular Gothambas ( Roti Chanai in Malaysia), on the other hand is a native of Puttalam. and is a Muslim.  He was rolling out the dough but not as with so much flourish as I have seen in Malaysia. Some of these flat dough “Gothas” were  stuffed with  a veg mixture made of local yams ( cheaper than the potato) and shaped into triangular patties.

Then there was the young, hip and talkative Rajin who made us tea sans milk,  hot and sweet.  He wanted his photo taken at the fruit stall by the road side.   Without missing a beat or his pose he said “Why not buy some passion fruit or this Papaya, naturally ripend on te tree.”   I ended up buying the papaya and promising to send a set of photos. 

Rajin was bilingual and was talking in Tamil and Sinhala  both. Trading seams to come naturally to him.  There we had a  trio of of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim workers, garrulous Rajin, quiet Uvais, and the pensive Somaratne,  all happily working together. 

Rajni of Sudeers Hotel.  Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

  Rajni of Sudeera Hotel. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

Mosque in Puttalam. Photograph© Chulie de Silva
Mosque in Puttalam. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

This mosque built near the spot where Ibn Battuta was supposed to have landed, is a proud land mark in Puttalam. Apparently Battuta’s writings describes  pearl fishing in Puttalam, a visit to Adam’s Peak, Dondra (Dewinuwara), and Galle, the other town in the South where many of the Arab traders landed. Batutta after his travels in Ceylon is supposed to have sailed back to India from Puttalam.

Crumbling shop house close to the spot where Battuta landed. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Crumbling shop house close to the spot where Battuta landed. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

Was Puttalam  and Galle then rich markets where traders of many nationalities roamed?  Did the Sinhalese. Tamils and Muslims live together amicably? 

A unique trilingual slab found in Galle in 1911, now in the Colombo Museum has inscriptions in Chinese, Persian and Tamil. The inscription is dated  1403 AD, the tenth regnal year of the Chinese Emperor, Ying Lo. the slab is said to have been installed in Galle by Chen Ho (1371-1435).

Did Battuta determinedly set out to have a good time, or did he just take off with only the adventure lust and stars to guide him?  We as travelers  cannot hold a candle to him. Sometimes, we spend a lot of money, select destinations carefully, and yet the magic eludes us. Sometimes, in life too we think we’ve got it all right to have a good time and someone or something moves the goals or puts a spoke in the plan. Often the nicest experiences in my life have come my way more subtly, when I am least expecting them. They don’t seem like much to write home about, but then I am here writing because this is precisely what I’d like to remember. 

What better than a pile of sand to play in? Photograph© Chulie de Silva
What better than a pile of sand to play in? Photograph© Chulie de Silva

 

Please  read: The Longest Hajj: The Journeys of Ibn Battuta by Douglas Bullis, Saudi Aramco World (July/August 2000). This article is worth about as much as all other material on the web, and something of a find as the search engine’s don’t think much of it yet.. This first link is the editor’s excellent introduction to the three articles, which mix recitation, translation and commentary. The parts are:

Part 1: From Pilgrim to Traveler—Tangier to Makkah. Bullis discusses Ibn Battuta’s unique, 58-page account of Mecca (Makkah), with a nice footnote on authorship problems pertaining to some of the sections.

Part 2: From Riches to Rags—Makkah to India. “All through the Rihla Ibn Battuta’s personal character comes out in hints and fragments. Today he might be regarded as a bit of a fussbudget or a meddler, evidenced by the rather too generous outrage he expresses at minor lapses in others’ behavior.”

Part 3: From Traveler to Memoirist—China, Mali and Home. “[I]n China, his reliability is so maddeningly variable that one can argue for or against his having been there at all.” Has good sections on Spain and sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Wikipedia: Ibn Battuta. This is an exemplary Wikipedia page, a lengthy, authoritative and hyperlinked

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Kandyan Dancers & Drummers

kandyan-dancers-and-drummersdsc_0101.jpg

Kandyan Dancers & Drummers

Vasala and Sandaruwan, the drummers, and Subath and Prasad the dancers in their splendid traditional attire were already to welcome a new bride and groom at a wedding reception in Anuradhapura when I met them.

The four young men have been training and dancing for 6 to 7 years and now works for the Regional Cultural Department.

The Kandyan dance as the name suggests originated in the hill capital Kandy but the origins of classical dances of Sri Lanka is steeped in an exorcism ritual called Kohomba Kankariya performed to banish demons in the head of a bewitched king.

kandyan-dancers-2-dsc_0098.jpg

This genre is today considered the classical dance of Sri Lanka. In Sanskrit terminology it is considered pure dance (nrtta); it features a highly developed system of tala (rhythm), provided by cymbals called thalampataa. There are five distinct types; the ves, naiyandi, uddekki, pantheru, and vannams,” writes Sicille P.C. Kotelawala.

Read more in her article about “Classical Dances of Sri Lanka” on the WWW Virtual Library – Sri Lanka.

See also Wikipedia Kandyan Dance

Photographs © Chulie de Silva