Beliefs Foundations Opening NewYear Clairvoyants Unlucky Days Holy Tree Yantra & Mantra Statue Shrines

© 2023 Dr Margaret Sheppard

There are many clairvoyants in Sri Lanka. Nearly every village has one and they seem to be male and female. Often an individual will be troubled with dreams or illness and then discover they have developed the gift of clairvoyancy and people start to consult them for help and advice about their future lives or how to avoid coming troubles etc. Most clairvoyants seem to have a special area set aside where their clientele consult them. This can be a separate room or hut in which there is typically a devali perhaps dedicated to a deity from whom the clairvoyant “gains their gift”.

Some of the more famous clairvoyant are consulted by clientele from far and wide and may even provide accommodation where their clients can stay.

This clairvoyant has a  devale dedicated to Kali. He seems to be well known and  was dressed as in the photographs.

When we arrived he was dealing with another patient. She was there with her father. Her husband had run away & also she had problems with her stomach. When we arrived she was lying on a sleeping mat in front of the clairvoyant. He was sitting on the step of his devali with his feet resting on the step made of old swords with the blades pointing upwards. He was using one of these to spear limes on the end and with these he was reciting whilst at the same time touching the woman with the sword on her upper arms, breast bone, each of her upper thighs &  her belly button area. He was hitting her quite hard with the sword with the lime. From time to time he would take another lime from the bowl of limes held out to him by a male attendant. When all the limes had been used and re-collected into a bowl they were then tipped into a pot where the woman had poured in two bottles of coconut oil. When this mixture had boiled he then put his hand into the boiling liquid and then put oil on the woman's hair. Then the pot was removed to cool at the side of the devali. (This seems to share elements with the ceremony of the Legend of the & steps where the limes are cut against the patient’s head & feet, put in a pot & then boiled up in oil.)

He then talked to the woman telling her that she would be OK. Her husband had many girlfriends & wanted her dead. He had given her poison that was causing her stomach problems but she would he OK. She was crying. He then took her into the devali behind the curtain across the sword threshold. We could hear him telling her again re-assuring her that she would be OK. Then they came out & he continued speaking to her.

Threshold of swords

Clairvoyant with first patient, after coming out of the devali behind the threshold of swords, he stands before the pot with the boiling coconut oil and the limes he used to “thump” her body. Then he placed his hand into the boiling liquid & rubbed some of the mixture of coconut oil & limes over her head.

Then holding her arm he put her hand into the boiling liquid. - She was not burnt

Clairvoyant accompanies the first patient to the Kali Shrine in his grounds. Here they “pray” together and she makes her request. N.B. such requests to Kali are usually accompanied  by a pledge to Kali that if the request is granted the patient will do something in return.  Some of these vows are quite “brutal” and involve being suspended with hooks through the skin on the front of tractors being driven from Temple to Temple. Such scenes can often to be observed during the Katargama Perahera season when such pledges are carried out.

The third patient who did not tell him the problem. He told her that she had an elderly relative missing who had left the hospital. He told her that this relative was in the Hakmana area between Matara & Tangalle. She would come back but she was confused.

She was told to break a coconut at Hikkaduwa Temple before the next Full Moon.

Clairvoyant informs patient of what he “sees” & points in the direction the elderly missing relative has taken. (In this case he subsequently turned out to be completely wrong! In fact she turned up in Galle Fort area.

Pointing in the direction in which he “sees” the missing elderly relative

Following consultation offering a coconut at the devale

The last consultee was a middle aged woman dressed all in white. She was coming to see him as there were lots of family problems – squabbles, fights etc. She also sat in front of him on the mat.

First & second patient seated in front of clairvoyant who gives them final reassurance

The next patient was a middle aged woman who had come because her son has run away. She brought a coconut which the clairvoyant set alight. The Clairvoyant, with his feet on sword blade doorstep, gives his analysis. He told her that she should crack a coconut at Sennigama Temple, near Hikkaduwa  which is dedicated to a Deity, before the next Full Moon. This will help to bring him back.

Continuing with his ”instructions” to afford her safe return

Kali Shrine

Clairvoyant’s male assistant with patient

Consulting is record book of his cases

A Village Clairyoyant  

 There are numerous “village” clairvoyants all over Sri Lanka. This one is fairly typical -she has a special house in the family courtyard where she conducts her consultations. This little house has a “bay” window where she has placed the statues of the deities from which she sources her gift.

Here the consultees had to take a coconut, bulat leaves, 7 coins & 100 rupees (this was the same for the Kataragama man.

The consultee lit the top of the coconut & then the clairvoyant turned the coconut in her hands to enable her to “see”. The remaining items were she placed in her shrine. She wore a sparkly cloth wrapped around her shoulders. This type of cloth seemed to be worn by other clairvoyants when they were “seeing”.

A cigarette break & a cup of tea brought by his male assistant - throughout the consultations his mobile phone rang from people wishing to seek his advice and/or come for consultations

This clairvoyant is well-known and people travel from all over Sri Lanka to consult him. He certainly has a “commanding presence” and a very expressive face


(More details can be found about Mantra and Yantra in the section on Beliefs.)

Clairvoyants at Hot Springs near Trincomalee

These ladies are originally from Southern India and read palms etc. for the visitors to these Holy Hot Springs. They congregate in the car park and expect a fee in return for  reading the futures for their customers. Whilst they make their predictions, they are muttering mantras in a Southern Indian language.

Reading Palms

These women used palm leaflet booklets with inscriptions and diagrams to make their predictions