SRI LANKA: Arts and Entertainment
The origin of Sri Lankan entertainment goes back to immemorial times of aboriginal tribes and "yakkas" (devils). According to a Sinhalese legend, Kandyan dances originate, 2500 years ago, from a magic ritual that broke the spell on a bewitched king.
An ancient chronicle, the Mahavamsa, states that when the culture hero Vijeya landed in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) in 543 BCE, he heard the sounds of music and dancing from a wedding ceremony. Dance is still of paramount importance in Sri Lankan (Sinhala) arts. There are three main styles: the Kandyan dance of the hill country, known as uda rata natum; the low country dance of the southern plains, known as pahatha rata natum; and sabaragamuwa dance, or sabaragamuwa natum.
The art of music, like most of the other arts in the East has been handed down the centuries orally from teacher to pupil. It was not written down in notation as in the West. Bands of hereditary professional musicians and dancers kept the tradition alive. Their patrons the kings, princes and nilames, freed them from want by rich presents and gifts of land and kept them at their palaces and mansions, so that they could devote time to perfect their art.
Ira Madiyama - In the Heat of the Day
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