© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

Dances Evening Watch Midnight Watch Morning Watch Patient Dancing Fire Dance Finale

A Typical Tovil Dance to Exorcise the Disease Causing Demons

Although there are several different variations of Tovil Dances according to which type of ceremony is deemed necessary by the Edura to cure the afflicted patient, they do all seem to follow the same basic pattern. However it should be noted that the details also tend to vary  between the different Eduras and groups of tovil dancers.

The  common pattern is as follows:

The Tovil Dancers and their assistants typically spend much of the day at the home where the ceremony is to be held building all the necessary structures  and ensuring everything is as it should be for the all- night ceremony. They are helped by their assistants and the male relatives of the patient.

These dances I attended usually started at about 9 p.m and continued all night until dawn.

There are three distinct periods of these ceremonies:

The Evening Watch

The Midnight Watch

The Morning Watch

Each watch has its own particular dances and costumes and during each, the appropriate demons are summoned and exorcised from the victim or victims in exchange for the prescribed offerings. Each Watch has sub sections describing the different dances and demons.

(N.B. The photographs and description in this section on DANCES are from several different Tovil Ceremonies)

Further Suggested Reading:

Bruce Kaferer  “A Celebration of Demons”

Paul Wirz  “Exorcism and the Art of Healing in Ceylon”

Gananath Obeysekere  “The Cult of the Goddess Pattini”

You Tube Links for the Playlists for Evening Watch, Midnight Watch and Morning Watch are as follows:

Tovil (Devil) Dances 1: Evening Watch


Tovil (Devil) Dances 2: Midnight Watch


Tovil (Devil) Dances 3: Morning Watch



Tovil/Devil Dance Ceremonies