Sabaragamuwa Dance Traditions

Those of the Veddah tribe also known as the ‘Sapara’ tribe mostly lived in the region called Sabaragamuwa, named after them. Because of its ancient history the dance traditions of the veddahs are older than considered to be much older than other dance traditions in the country. Not as advanced as the low and up country dance traditions, the Sabaragamuwa dance tradition still plays the most vital role at certain cultural and traditional festive occasions. They are:
The Perehera, Yaktovil, Kirimadu, Pahanmadu, Gam-madu, Clergy processions and festival drums, are some of these.
There are certain features that are unique to the Sabaragamuwa dance tradition:
Hands and feet formations
Musical instruments and style of play
Singing style
The costumes
A two-way positioning of the hands is required in the Sabaragamuwa tradition. The palm of one hand is turned inward facing self and the other palm will be turned outward. This formation requires much skill that only comes with practice. The training is carried out in twelve stages called ‘Thei Wattam’. Only an experienced tutor will poses the necessary skills to train others. Usually the training period requires 3-4 months.

Costumes used in Sabaragamuwa dance Tradition

According to ancient records the dancer is required to adorn a costume similar to that worn by god Saman of the Saman Devalaya,

The Costume:
The cloth (Selaya)

Red cloth (Pachcha wadama)

Waste cloth



Forehead band



Initiation Ceremony

This ceremony is held when the teacher at the appropriate time decides to formally introduce his students. This is done when he symbolically wraps the waste band around the pupil and then follows it by placing the remaining parts of the costume on his pupil. This is usually done at an auspicious time and the student is expected to demonstrate his newly acquired skills by performing before their parents.

With this, the pupils receive a license to perform in public at processions, pinkamas, kirimadu and pahanmadu as the occasion may require.

Pahanmadu Shanthi Karmaya

The Sabaragamuwa dance tradition is one of the oldest surviving art forms in Sabaragamuwa. Together with other dance traditions, the Sabaragamuwa

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    javajones said,

    I always thought that the Sabaragamuwa dance tradition/style had elements of both the Kandyan and Low Country dance traditions/styles. Don’t you think there are similarities to both these styles in the Sabaragamuwa dance? However, if you state the tradition is older than both the Kandyan and Low Country dances, could this be possible? Or would the reverse be true – ie: that the Sabaragamuwa dance has influenced the Kandyan and Low Country dance styles?

  2. 2

    Omesha said,

    Your service is the best

  3. 4

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