Buddhism has been the core of Sri
Lankan culture. The connection between society and Buddhism,
traditional Arts, Music and Dance are the significance in Sri Lanka
culture. The origin of Sri Lankan Dance goes back to the time of
indigenous people of Sri Lanka. According to historical records, the
tribal people - Yakkas were fond of Music and Dance.
There are three main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance:
1) The Kandyan dances of the Up Country (Uda Rata Natum)
2) The Low country dances of the southern plains (Pahatha
3) Sabaragamuwa dances (Sabaragamuwa Natum)
Kandyan Dance, as the name suggests hails from Kandy, the last royal
capital of Sri Lanka. There are five (05) variations of the Kandyan
Dance, namely Ves Dance, Naiyandi Dance, Uddekki
Dance, Pantheru Dance and Vannams. The most
popular is the "Ves Dance".
Only men take part in Kandyan Dances. The costumes worn by the
performers take after the costumes of deities to whom they dedicate
Low Country Dance:
Low country Dance is performed to please the evil spirits which
cause sickness hence highly ritualistic. The dancers wear masks
resembling many characters such as bird, demons, reptiles, etc.
Sabaragamuwa Dance, based in Rathnapura is performed to worship God
Saman, the deity who is considered to be the guardian of Rathnapura.
Sabaragamuwa Dance has feature from both Kandyan Dance and Low
In Sabaragamuwa dancing mainly men take part and ladies too allowed.
The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan and Sabaragamu
dancing, and Ruhunu dancing, is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks.
The other goes along with the Sri Lankan classical Dances are the
Drums. The shape and size of the drums use 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 dancing as the "Yak Bera", and drum in
Sabaragamuwa dancing as the "Davula" (the word Bera or
Bereya in Sinhala 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.
Apart from classical dancing, there are also folk dances, which are
associated with folk activities and festivities. Normally folk
dances are performed during harvest time and other lay occasions.