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Part 1 - Inviting Gods and Demons

The patient prays to Buddha.


The ceremony begins with the patient and his wife worshiping Buddha, his teachings and the order of monks at the gods altar.


This was made earlier in the day and holds oil lamps, flowers and offerings.







The gods are invited


An assistant yakadura sings and dances, inviting Vishnu, Kataragama, Nathan and Saman. In addition to being Sri Lanka's four Island deities, they are all strong followers of Buddha. Then many minor gods are called one by one, including the sun god, moon god, earth god and gods of streams, rivers, creepers, streets, teachers, parents and beaches.


The gods have an authorative yet passive function. They witness proceedings and lend their power to the exorcists.

After first offering prayers at the gods altar, the yakadura starts chanting and dancing. Within seconds his eyes become unfocused and he's suddenly filled with intense energy - He has entered the state of Dishtiya - Gaze of the wild..


For the next hour, with two drummers playing special rhythms at deafening volume, he chants and dances intensively. The ritual sword makes its first appearance of the night as he dances and makes slashing movements with it. Eventually he goes to the patient and starts questioning him. Holding his hand on the patients head, he describes the nature of the illness and also tells of his past, present and future.


The yakadura says that that despite all the vigorous dancing and activity, he never feels tired afterwards - because it's not him that was doing it, it was the god.


Possession and diagnosis

Yakadura possessed by Dishtiya

Offerings to Demons

Offering foods to demons

Now the gods have arrived, the demons must be summoned one by one. They are attracted with their favourite foods, the scent of dummala filling the room, songs and dances. 


The exorcist carries a powerful 'wand', the igaha, used in legend by Lord Vessamuni to control his demons. He sings songs demanding that they attend and accept the offerings, they also tell the legends of each demons birth and their place in the cosmic order. Mahasona for instance, was once one of the ten giants in the army of King Dutugamunu. After pursuing the wife of another, he was challenged to a duel in a cemetery - during which his head was kicked off.. A passing diety took pity and replaced his head with that of a bear - he was then reborn as the Great Cemetery Demon.


The basket designs and the offerings are different for each demon. Kalu Yaka's has four sections plus an egg, Suniyam's has nine sections.


Demons like polluted food - food changed from it's 'natural' form by cooking or decaying. They like specially cooked food such as vegetable and meat curries.


Gods prefer natural foods such as uncooked fruit.

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A white cloth separates the patient from the demons while they are being called


  • Offerings to Buddha and gods

  • A spirit diagnoses the patient

  • The Demons are invited

Part 2 - Dealing with demons