A burst of Daha
Fire dancers bending backwards while they lowered flaming
torches into their mouths. Drummers accompanying them while rhythmically
beating on two Yak bera. A Gurunnanse (master of ceremonies) holding
out a pouch of flammable powder for the dancers to light their torches.
And finally a dancer dressed up as a Yakka (devil) performing a
scene complete with witty, humorous dialogue.
a much longer and fuller recital, these scenes gave all those present
a glimpse of what they were in for. Performed at the end of the
media briefing held at the Ceylon Continental Hotel, this preview
would have adequately tempted everyone watching it, to witness the
"real thing". The complete performance of "Daha Ata
Sanniya," will definitely be a novel experience for any audience.
the Rotary Club of Colombo Millennium City District 3220, the performance
of this traditional and extremely unique dance ritual is co-ordinated
by Kumar de Silva of Adahas (Pvt.) Ltd and Rohana Beddage, one of
Sri Lanka's veteran experts on traditional Sinhalese dance and drama.
organised to create awareness and revive dying forms of culture,
some of the proceeds of the recital will be used by the Rotary Club
of Colombo Millennium City, for the club's polio eradication campaign.
Ata Sanniya" is a traditional dance ritual held to exorcise
18 types of diseases from the human body. Though an extremely colourful
and vibrant pageant, most Sri Lankans do not get the chance of witnessing
it, due to the performance's exorbitant costs and the long duration.
The organisers plan to edit the original performance in order to
suit urban audiences as well as tourists, bringing this essentially
traditional spectacle to the Colombo stage.
As Mr. Beddage,
explained, the origin of this Shanthi Karmaya (blessing) took place
in the times of ancient kings and was performed in the southern
and western parts of the country. According to the story, while
King Sankapala was at war, his wife who was pregnant had a sudden
craving for a certain variety of mango. As she ate it, her maid
of honour too had wanted a piece of the fruit, but had been refused
by the Queen. Angry at this refusal, the maid cursed her and when
the King returned after the war, told him that the Queen had conceived
out of wedlock. The story was believed and the Queen was sliced
in two with a sword. The baby was born and ate off his mother and
so, a devil was born. As the story goes, lead by this devil, 18
other devils were created and they in turn came to towns and cities
and began to spread in the form of diseases. It is to counter this
type of sickness that the Daha Ata Sanniya originated.
'Daha Ata Sanniya"
will be performed in two sections where the first part will consist
of seven palis, while the second part will be performed as the 18
sannis. The artistes will perform their parts in jovial movements,
bringing much entertainment to the audiences. Joining hands to make
this spectacular recital a reality are, Lionel Bentharage, Hemachandra
Weerasinghe, Kumudu Kumara and Sumith Jayanetti. The drum beats
of "Daha Ata Sanniya" will pulsate on April 5 at the BMICH