Colombo Cultural Show

Kandyan dance takes its name from Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka, This genre is today considered the classical dance of Sri Lanka. In Sanskrit terminology it is considered pure dance (nrtta); it features a highly developed system of “tala” (rhythm), provided by cymbals called “thalampataa”. There are five distinct types; the ves, naiyandi, uddekki, pantheru, and vannams. The three classical dance forms differ in their styles of body-movements and gestures, in the costumes worn by the performers, and in the shape and size of the drums used to provide rhythmic sound patterns to accompany the dancing. The drum used in Kandyan dancing is known as the Geta Bera, the drum in Ruhunu (low country) dancing as the “Yak Bera”, and drum in Sabaragamu dancing as the “Davula” (the word Bera or Bereya in Sinhale means “Drum”) The Geta Bera is beaten with the hands as is also Yak Bera, while the Davula is played with a stick on one side and with one hand on the other side; the Geta Bera has a body which tapers on both sides while the Yak Bera and the Davula both have cylindrical bodies. The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan and Sabaragamu dancing, and Ruhunu dancing, is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks.

There are three main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance:

  • The Kandyan dances of the Hill Country, known as Uda Rata Natum;
  • The low country dances of the southern plains, known as Pahatha Rata Natum;
  • Sabaragamuwa dances, or Sabaragamuwa Natum.

Pooja Narthanaya or Invocation Dance

It is customary to commence Sri Lankan cultural events with a Pooja dance. It invokes the blessing of the Triple Gem and the local deities on the performers, as well as, the audience. Pooja dance is an amalgamation of the three classical dance forms of Sri Lanka. All such three dance forms are identified as Kandyan, Low country, and Sabaragamuwa, The classical Indian dance is identified as Bharatha Natyam.


Ves is identified by the characteristic traditional attire of the Kandyan dance performer. Dance form is considered as a white magic ritual related to the Up Country Main Dance tradition known as “Khoba Kan Kariya”. Basically classical in concept, the dancer uses intricate rhythmic patterns intensifying to a vigorous and lively climax.


Thelme is a brilliant expression of the pure rhythmical and classical dance form of the Low-Country tradition. It is a dance that highlights in the ritual, “Devol Maduwa” or “Gammaduwa“. It is performed in honour of Goddess Paththini or Amman.


The dance is based on “Mayura vannama”. Its techniques derive from Kandyan Dance forms. It depicts various movements of Peacock, embellished by vibrant colours and lithe footsteps adding a vision of glamour to the performance.


It is believed that illnesses were brought on humans by demons. These beliefs and rituals have prehistoric roots. Accordingly a bad influence hits directly by a demon or Sanni. Sanni means disease. In the ritual of Sanniyakuma there are 18 Sanni and 12 Pali. Salupaliya is one of the most superb humorous dances – just known as “Pali”. This item stems from rituals.

Folk Dance / Harvesting Dance

During the harvesting period village damsels come to the paddy field for cutting and collecting paddy. This item depicts how they enjoy whilst they are engaged in such activities.

Pantheru Dance

Pantheruwa refers to a particular brass ring. Dancers perform with the pantheru using in various rhythmic patterns. This item belongs to the Kandyan dance form.

Naga Raksha and Gurulu Raksha

Kolam is a dramatic and colourful performance. It is performed in the Southern part of Sri Lanka. Naga & Gurulu Mask dances belong to Kolam play.

Raban Dance

Hand Raban is about one foot in diameter. Some performers keep revolving the Raban on the tip of their fingers while others play it, accompanied by singing. This is played with one hand only.

Drum Orchestra

It’s orchestrated through various thunderous musically oriented drum beats. It’s really a beautiful orchestra of percussionary band performers. It is resourced mainly through classical music and its related rhythms.


Rohan JayamannaColombo Cultural Shows