History of Kandyan Dancing
Kandyan dancing, also known as “Udarata Natum,” originated in the ancient kingdom of Kandy, the last capital of Sri Lanka’s monarchy. It dates back centuries and has evolved as a result of cultural influences from India, particularly from the ancient South Indian dance form called “Koothu.” Over time, Kandyan dancing developed into a unique and distinct art form, incorporating elements of rhythm, storytelling, and religious rituals.
Significance of Kandyan Dancing
Kandyan dancing is deeply rooted in Sri Lankan culture and holds immense significance in various aspects of life. It plays a pivotal role in religious ceremonies, cultural festivals, and traditional rituals. The dancers, adorned in elaborate costumes and jewelry, showcase the cultural identity of Sri Lanka while expressing emotions, stories, and spiritual themes through their movements. Kandyan dancing is also recognized as a form of meditation, promoting mindfulness and inner peace.
Related reading: The Temple of Tooth in Kandy
The Graceful Movements
At the heart of Kandyan dancing are its graceful movements, which are both expressive and rhythmic. The dancers perform a series of intricate footwork patterns, spins, and leaps, captivating the audience with their precision and agility. Every movement is meticulously choreographed and executed with finesse, requiring years of training and dedication. The fluidity and synchronization of the dancers’ movements create a mesmerizing spectacle, leaving spectators spellbound.
The Splendor of Costumes and Jewelry
One cannot discuss Kandyan dancing without mentioning its splendid costumes and jewelry. The dancers adorn themselves in colorful attire, reflecting the rich traditions of Sri Lanka. The male dancers wear a distinctive costume called the “ves costume,” which consists of a jacket, sarong, headdress, and hand decorations. The female dancers wear an equally exquisite costume known as the “osariya,” featuring a long, flowing saree with intricate designs. The costumes are complemented by intricate jewelry, including necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and headpieces, adding a touch of elegance and grandeur to the performances.
The Enchanting Music
Kandyan dancing is accompanied by vibrant and rhythmic music, which sets the mood and enhances the overall performance. The main musical instrument used is the “Geta Beraya,” a pair of small drums played with bare hands (Hear the sound of Geta Beraya). The beat of the drums, combined with the rhythm of other traditional instruments like the flute, cymbals, and conch shell, creates an enchanting ambiance, transporting the audience into a world of cultural splendor.
Preserving Sri Lankan Traditional Kandyan Dancing
Efforts to preserve Sri Lankan traditional Kandyan dancing have been ongoing to ensure its continuation for future generations. Various organizations, cultural institutions, and dedicated individuals have taken up the responsibility of teaching, promoting, and safeguarding this art form. Dance schools and academies provide training to aspiring dancers, passing down the knowledge and techniques from one generation to the next. Additionally, cultural festivals and performances serve as platforms to showcase Kandyan dancing to a wider audience, raising awareness and appreciation for this ancient art form.