A Glance Into Sri Lanka's Unique Devil Dance

  • 19 Apr 2018

The Devil Dance is a unique practice in Sri Lanka, which is performed to free a person or place from demons, evil spirits or bad luck caused by malignant spirits, as well as to cure the patient from certain ailments.

When a person or a family is going through a rough time, the village-folks believe that they are being harassed by the unseen and arranges for a 'thovil' ceremony, a simple ritualistic ceremony performed at home restricted to family, immediate neighbours or sometimes the whole village.

During the ceremony, the dancers wear masks to represent certain characters and among the famous one is 'Maha Sohona', the demon of the graveyards.

Most of the masks look bizarre with bulging eyes, wide grins, pointy nose, sharp teeth and colourful headdresses, which can be found throughout the country. These masks represent the demons who once lived in the land, ruled by King Ravana.

During the ritual, the dancers will be accompanied by drummers and the full ritual usually lasts until the morning, or sometimes it can go up to several days.

Here's how the devil dance is performed:

Image credit: Trekearth and Flickr

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