© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

Pattini Ceremonies Myths Shrines Community Pattini Community Pattini 2 Family Pattini

An Assistant then circulated around the audience and took a collection for Pattini. People dropped in coins and small denomination notes into the collecting bowl.


Whilst they were drumming, the Assistant had completed the collection and placed the collection in the “hut” on the chair holding the Offering Basket.

The three drummers then stood before the Toran, there was singing from the texts by the drummers and the Officiant who sang alternate verses. The Officiant  placed a clay pot covered with a white cloth in the shrines in the “hut”. He then took his pink shawl from the Toran. It was folded under his arm. He then carried the broken pieces of split coconut and placed them face down on the chair for the  offerings in the “hut”. An Assistant brought over a small clay pot under his direction. He appeared to be placing these items at the appropriate part of the sung text lines. Next he took the clay pot with two lighted torches back to the community leaders sitting on the bench by the Toran and then placed it in the Toran. He lit the lamps at the base of each side of the Toran. The drummers had by now started to drum slowly and progress in a circular movement facing each other in time to the beat, in front of the Toran. Singing of the texts continued.

The oil lamps in all the Shrines had now been lit

To the right on the bench, are seated  the representatives of the community. This drumming continued for some time and the drummers progressed around the Performance Area in front of the Toran, singing alternate lines as they moved

Next a white cloth was erected before the main Toran. The main Officiant placed certain articles in the Toran. These were the sacred bracelets, foot rings, jewellry and clothes of Pattini. These he had transferred from the “hut”. On an adjoining chair he placed an Offering Basket. The cloths on the back of the chairs are of five colours. These colours represent the five colours of Buddha’s halo.

The main Officiant was on the Toran side of the white cloth. He sang alternate lines of the relevant Pattini text with another dancer about what he was doing whilst he rang a little tinkling cymbal (another sign associated with Pattini) accompanied by a slow drumbeat.

The officiating Tovil Dancer then dressed in the special Pattini clothes and adorned himself with the sacred Pattini objects. He sings about what he is doing.

Towards the end of the dance the Officant was back in front of the Toran and the white cloth was dropped. He continued to sway to and fro in front of the toran whilst he sang with the drummer. Then the drumbeat changed again

Throughout the display of the sacred articles of Pattini the Officiant danced to the special rhythm of a drum at times twirling slowly around the Performance Area and then in front of the Toran. This dance is the “Dance Steps of Pattini”. They are a thanksgiving to Pattini for promoting continued prosperity and well-being  to the community.

The songs sung whilst this dance is performed relate to the seven re-incarnations of Pattini and the offerings made to the sacred ornaments of Pattini (Texts 15-18) For example:

…....“The Goddess Pattini’s glorious anklet is now on the couch on the toran arch

We’ve offered it sandal, musk, camphor and dewy water and five fruits,

Lovely lovely young twelve year old maids line up to receive blessings

Pattini has arrived, she blesses and banishes the problems of the congregation.”…..

                                                                                                                                       (Obeysekere P.127)


Then the drumbeat changed again and with  a very sharp knife one of the assistants on the signal from the Officiant, split a coconut to foretell the likely auspicious outcome of the ceremony  - (In this case he cut it neatly in two so the omens were excellent). The garments were then carefully stored away by the main Officiant in Pattini's section of the Toran.

At the end of the dance the sacred articles were carefully returned to the Toran by the Officiant and the chairs on which they had been resting were removed by  an Assistant.

The Officiant then again donned his head cloth. To a new slow drumbeat he swayed and sang facing the Toran. The two community leaders stood to the side of the Toran holding bulat leaves.At the end of the dance they presented these with their offerings to the Officiant who then placed  them in the Toran and then he took oil from the Toran which he poured into their hands which they then rubbed onto their heads.

In the meantime an assistant was  topping up the oil lamps at the shrines with coconut oil.

At the end of the dance they were swaying around the Offering basket and the sacred objects and were singing. One of the dancers moved what looked like bulat leaves from the chairs to the offering basket. This is the “Offering of Bulat Leaves”

Then at the end of the dance the white cloth was removed.

Then one of the dancers started to dance slowly at first, in front of the white cloth on the audience side. He was holding coconut flowers in his hands. As the drumbeat became faster five other dancers joined in. All were attired with head cloths and held coconut flowers in their hands. Their dance circled around the chairs and between the Toran and white cloth. The dance became faster and they whirled singly and in pairs in turn.

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Gam Madua Part 3


The drumbeat changed and the main Officiant continued to arrange the objects on the chairs donning the garments. He placed the pink shawl around his shoulders. Then, as the drum beat became faster, he performed “side-stepping” dance around the chairs and in front of the Toran. This is ceremonially “Bringing Forth the Divine Objects”. At the end of this first dance he saluted the Toran.

The drumbeat then changed again There is a new song with alternate verses of the texts being sung by the drummer and the main Officiant who was now facing the Toran as he swayed and sang. An Assistant placed a coconut to the left of the chairs under the direction of the Officiant. Then the drumbeat changed again and two assistants held either end of a white cloth over the head of the Officiant who progressed around the chairs, weaving around so that at times the assistants could not keep up with the white cloth. As the dance continued it became faster and faster and he whirled around.. He was displaying the sacred objects. As a Deity his head must be covered by the white cloth out of respect.

Community leaders waiting to make their offerings with the bulat leaves.

As they were drumming, the drummers progressed around the Performance Area in front of the Toran. They sang as they drummed and from time to time rotated in time to the beat. The rhythm changed from time to time with new verses that related different myths of the Deities. At one point the singing ceased whilst one drummer drummed in front of the Toran. Then the Officiant reappeared in front of the left of the Toran with a white cloth around his neck.

This drumming and singing lasted about 20 minutes  In the meantime the dancers had been changing for the next dance. During  the drumming they entered from behind the Toran commenced this dance before and facing it

Bracelets and Collection