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Sri Lankan Kandyan Dance Troop at Sidmouth

A Sri Lankan dance troop enthrals folk festival goers.

News 1980 2 mins

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TV reporter Lawrie Quayle introduces a preview of the twenty-sixth International Folklore Festival at Sidmouth in Devon. Women perform a Sri Lankan Kandyan dance to drum music. The Kandyan dance is native to the area around Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka in the central hills and 70 miles away from today’s capital Colombo. The origins of the dance come from the ritual known as Kohomba Kankariya, a traditional Sinhala folk rite for the deity Kohomba Yaka.

It relates to the story of Malayaraja Kathava or King Malaya and dates to the time of King Panduvasudeva. The dances are performed annually at the Kandy Perahera a religious and cultural event which takes place in the city of Kandy in honour of the sacred tooth-relic of the Buddha housed in the Dalada Maligawa, the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. The drum used in Kandyan dancing is known as the Geta Bera. The dances are said to ward off pestilence and are used for obtaining relief from personal afflictions. Kohomba is also a tree called neem or Indian lilac in English with many uses including as an eco-friendly insecticide. The Sidmouth Folk Festival started in 1955 and grew to become an international annual event.