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Gam Madua Part 7 Blessing of the Community


The Officiant then replaced the scarf around his neck and  “blessed” each of the men. A substance from the small clay pot was first rubbed on each of their heads. This was possibly a half ”burnt” lime or coconut oil and sandalwood).

Then he smoothed purified water from the pot, rubbing it into each of their heads with the areca flower “whisk”


This followed on immediately after the previous dances. Two of the community leaders were called forward by the Officiant from the bench where they were sitting to the side of the Toran. They were instructed to sit cross legged on a mat to the right of the Toran that an assistant had unrolled. In front of them slightly to their left a chair had been placed with the Offering Basket which had a lighted torch. A white cloth  hung over the back of the chair. The Officiant held the purple shawl, then started singing, waving it over their heads and then progressing around in front of them and the Toran. He then placed the cloth around his neck.

An assistant brought a container of dummala forwards and was instructed to smoke under the chair and the Offering Basket. He also brought something from the main Toran which the Officiant held in his hand. He was still singing about what he was doing. He smoked the article in his hand and placed it in the offering basket before lifting out a small clay pot. He then anointed both the heads of the community leaders with whatever was in the pot (possibly a half lime). Then he took up a larger small clay pot of purified water from the Offering Basket. There was an areca flower “whisk” in it. Whilst continuing to sing, he “danced” with it to the slow drumbeat between the men and the Toran, singing all the while. Then he rubbed the water with the aid of the whisk, over each man’s head three times before replacing both articles in the Offering Basket.

Next he took up the white cloth, danced with it again whilst singing, then wiped each man’s head with it. This is to remove the problems from the community.Next he took a “comb” from the basket and he carefully “combed” each man’s hair before returning the “comb” to the basket. He then took another small pot containing white powder and made three marks on each of their foreheads before replacing the pot. He then picked up the pot with the dummala from under the chair and smoked dummala in front of each of them before returning it under the chair.

He then took the lighted torch out of the basket and danced around with it  towards the Toran and back again. Each man then was instructed to “bathe” his hands three times above the flame and make obeiance. He then removed the purple cloth from his shoulders and waved it over their heads again before replacing it around his shoulders, reciting “Ayobuan” - Long life - as he did so. Next he replaced the clay pot of water in the shrine in the “hut” and collected some bulat leaves from the Toran and gave them to each of the men for them to make their formal offerings. He held the Offering Basket in front of them thus enabling them to place their offerings to the Deities respectfully with the bulat leaves,  on behalf of the community. The Officiant then waved the Offering Basket over their heads and blessed them. He danced and sang with it in front of them and around the Performance Area between them and the Toran. He and the other Tovil dancers (who were sitting down by the Toran) sang alternate lines of the verse. At the end of this ,whilst the drumbeat continued, he placed the Offering Basket with its torch into the “hut” shrine, gave the white cloth from the back of the chair to one of the other tovil dancers who placed it beside him whilst the Officiant removed the chair back behind the Toran where he followed.

Without a pause of drumbeat, the dancer who had received the white cloth took over the dance. He held bunches of areca flowers in his hands. First he danced in front of the Toran, then around the Performance Area , in front of the Shrines and the men. His dance involved twists and turns of the body and some twirling. Then he took a coconut leaf from beside the Toran and a lighted torch from the “hut” and danced with these in the same manner. He paused whilst the drumbeat continued and trembled quite violently whilst he was in front of the shrine to the right of the toran.Then he circulated in the same manner around the Performance Area, “trembling” again in front of the “hut”. Next he danced in front of the men and concluded the dance by whirling rapidly back in front of the Toran. The two men then returned to their seats.

The two community representatives were called forward to sit on a mat and the Officiant waved the purple scarf around them

He then rubbed each of their heads with the white cloth from the back of the chair.

Then he marked each of their foreheads with the white powder from the small clay pot

He carefully “combed” each of their heads with the “comb” from the Offering Basket.

He then rubbed their heads with bulat leaves

Then he took the  offering basket from the chair  which was sited to the village men’s left. They each added offerings with the bulat leaves he had given them to the basket. This is the respectful method to present offerings to a Deity.

The Officiant then took up the Offering Basket and waved it over their heads, then he danced with it and returned it to the “hut” shrine. He then collected the white cloth from the back of the chair, gave it to another Tovil dancer who placed it beside him near the Toran. The Officiant  removed the chair and retired behind the Toran.

He again removed the shawl and waved it over them to dispel the problems from the community.

The dancer who received the white cloth then took over without a pause. He held bunches of areca flowers in his hands. First he danced in  front of the Toran then around the Performance Area  and the men.  During the dance he took a lighted torch from the “hut” and a coconut leaf from the toran.Then he danced with  both of these in front of the men, around the Performance Area and each of the shrines. The dance became faster and faster in time to the drumbeat. The dancer began to whirl. He paused in from of the right hand shrine shaking quite violently when he took a coconut leaf from this shrine Then he performed more whirling in front of the men whilst holding the coconut leaf and torch and  he returned to dancing in front of the Toran.

The Officiant has retired behind the Toran after placing the Offering Basket in the “hut”. The other dancer took over and performed at whirling dance.

It is possible that this was the Offering of the Dawn Watch to the Kurumbara Demons

The offering basket represents the ship in which Devol and  Kurumbara had sailed to Sri Lanka to trade and were then ship wrecked but saved by the Deities (see Myth), The basket contains appropriate offering for this group of demons and during the recitations when the community representatives are blessed, the words from Text 30 - the Kannalava or plea to Kurumbara are recited (O p 155-6). This recitation refers to part of the myth of their arrival, greetings to them and an invocation to them to release the community from their troubles and keep them safe.

Following this dance, the men returned to their places on the bench beside the Toran.

The next part of the ceremony was the Presentations.