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A different style of tovil (exorcism) ceremony evolved in the central hill country around Kandy - historically isolated from the rest of the island.

The general concept of the ceremony is much the same - a sequence of rituals in which Buddha and the gods are called on to assist in removing evil influences and the demons attracted with praises and offerings. But here the centrepiece is the avamangalle - the death time ritual.

Other rituals may be missing or cut down, there are no wooden masks or funny dialogues with demons, there is less time purifying and protecting the patient.

Possessed patient dancing

A patient ( in white), possesed by a demon.

The patient, watching from her seat on the ground suddenly jumps up and, controlled by the demon, starts dancing, hopping and shaking in front of the excorcist (in red). The yakadura asks the demon why it infected the patient and what it requires to cure her and leave.

Legend of the Seven Steps

Avamangalle - the death time ritual

Click Play to hear three short recordings from the avamangalle

The Bali Ritual

This is a rare ceremony performed to ward off the evil influences of planetary deities. It was introduced from south India comparatively recently and adapted to incorporate Buddhist beliefs. The planets are considered highly important in Sri Lanka and horoscopes are consulted at all important junctures of a person's life.

This is another all night ceremony. It begins with homage being paid to Buddha, then a long complex piece of drumming. The majority of the ceremony consists of the practitioners passing between the planet's altar and the offerings area behind which sits the patient. Singing constantly, they call for the protection of the patient while occasionally flaring torches to scare away influences.

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