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Comedy - Bambura (The Demon Barber)

During the Morning Watch of a Mahasona Tovil the Sanni Demons appear and through their joking interchanges with one of the drummers provide a comic period. For this community Pattini  the Demon Barber - Bambura  - first danced to the drumbeat and then “shaved” one of the Assistants - this was the comic episode. It does not seem very clear who Bambura represents  but he is possibly a survival of the Veddah Deity of hunting. Obeysekere discusses this possibility in his description of this part of the ceremony. The performances I observed were very similar to his descriptions  but not identical.

The “barber” entered from behind the Toran  depicted as an old man with a long white beard. There was an empty chair in the Performance Area near the “hut”. He danced to the drumbeat around the Performance Area for about five minutes, every now and then striking poses “glaring” at sections of the audience. Then he grabbed an Assistant seated near the toran and placed him on the chair. He then threw a white cloth around his shoulders.

He took a clay pot from the “hut” and using the contents mimed shaving the man, then combing his hair, applying aftershave, oiling his hair with coconut oil using a bottle from the “hut” etc.. He then “combed” his hair again. He then disappeared behind the Toran and returned with a hand mirror. First he admired himself and then showed the Assistant the results of his work as a barber.

Then he pulled the Assistant to his feet and with his arms around him, danced with him before releasing him to his place by the Toran. He concluded this comic turn with a little more dancing and then  with a bow of “respect” towards the Toran.

The  “barber” entered.

N.B. the fire burning in the background behind the Performance Area. This was kept stoked throughout the night. It was for the Fire Walking at dawn

First the “barber” danced around the Performance Area.

Then much to the amusement of the audience the “barber” shaved the Assistant.

This part lasted about five minutes.

You Tube Video Link

Gam Madua Part 9 demon barber - Bambura