Lowland Dance Ceremony

The original plan for the evening was to take in a Sinhalese movie, however, there was a twist in events and the movie was postponed. Hettie got word from Tammy that there was a lowland dance ceremony planned for the goddess Kali in one of the small towns between Colombo and Kandy. At the last minute, they found space for me in the jeep and I was invited to witness this rare event.

The dance started at two o’clock (pm) as a parade that passes through small towns and communities around Kandy / Colombo. We passed the procession on the road and it was colourful with its banners, exotic dancers, little kids, mad drummers, and people in altered states of consciousness. By the time we passed them, it was 8:30pm and they were probably all hungry and dehydrated.

We found our way to the main village and waited for the procession to arrive. Seranga and Tammy decided to leave instead of waiting for the dancers, which meant Hettie and I had no way of getting back to Colombo. But this was not a problem: Hettie pulled out her cellular phone and arranged for a rickshaw to come and get us later. Then we sat under the stars and waited.

The dance was amazing. The costumes were incredibly elaborate and lots of time and energy is obviously spent in the production. The dance itself was so androgynous; the dancers had both feminine and masculine properties. It was so enthralling that I couldn’t look away. I found it very erotic to watch these people bare their souls through dance. By this point, you are seeing more of the soul than the skills because they have reached a different level of existence after a long day of dance. The endurance is incredible and I felt very lucky to get to experience such a ceremony. After watching for a while I found myself surrounded by villagers. As Hettie came over to rescue me she jokingly said that I was the main attraction.

We went into the main temple area and here we had to take our shoes off. This was the end of the procession and each group of dancers danced in front of Kali. Men were rushing up to the temple like cattle with hooks in their backs and were snapped back at the last minute. Little girls did dances around baskets and colourful men in sequined clothing and bells on their ankles and wrists did very feminine poses and movements. I like these dancers the best; their costumes were incredible and they seemed to be one with the drummer like the dancers and drummer could read each other’s mind.

When the dancing was over everyone went into the temple to pay their respects, even me because it was such and honour to get to witness this event. Then we all went inside the main house where we were fed chocolate brownies and biscuits; a lot was going on in the house but I couldn’t understand any of it because everyone was talking in Sinhalese. Eventually, we had to leave because our rickshaw was waiting for us.

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