© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

Pattini Ceremonies Myths Shrines Community Pattini Community Pattini 2 Family Pattini

Community Paddyfield Pattini - Gam-madua

This community Pattini Tovil was the culmination of an annual 7 day festival that the community hold in their local temple on an “island” in the midst of their village paddy fields. It is an ancient festival in this village which had been revived in 1990. One part of the festival is a ”fight” between two teams of men where they batter each other with a team horn like a battering ram. This is the ankeliya ritual sport. The game continues until one “horn” is broken. These two horns are then placed on display in the small Temple on the island in the middle of a paddy field under the Temple Bodhi tree.

Earlier in the afternoon of the last day before the night on which the Pattini Deva Tovil was  held they had held a village Perahera and the masks were lying at the side of the road at the entrance track leading to the site of the ceremony

This Pattini Ceremony followed the same general format as the other community Pattini except women were excluded from the Temple premises for the duration of the ceremony and only males participated in Fire Walking.

General View of Pattini Toran by the “island” Temple. N B the “horns” from the earlier ankeliya ritual sport are displayed on the left

Remains of Perahera masks

We arrived about 9pm. This is a fairly remote Goyigama village (Goyigama is the highest Sri Lankan caste). The villagers (according to their leader) had collected the money amongst their community to hold the festival. They engage different tovil dance groups each year. The leader told us that in the old days the Tovil dancers only cost 72 rupees now they charge 58000 rupees (this is however much cheaper than for family tovils  - according to an informant the tovil dancers’ fee is much lower for a ceremony  dedicated to a Deity as the tovil dancers are afraid that it could displease the Deity if they charged a higher fee resulting in their punishment).

A rope surrounded the island. Women were not allowed to enter under the rope so we were seated benches on the marshy paddy stubble with the mosquitoes buzzing merrily around. Therefore all the video and photos were taken from a distance.

Quite soon after we arrived there was a break during which bananas, tea and biscuits were served by the men. One of the leaders was in charge of the servers and he  ensured everyone partook and was refreshed. This is part of the dana, by providing refreshments to everyone the Deities are pleased and will then hopefully continue their support to the community.

Women outside the rope being served refreshments. The cups were washed as the tea was served - see man with red washing-up bowl.

“Island” Temple - the focus of the Pattini Ceremony located on the “island” in the middle of the village paddy fields.

Men servers under the direction of a leader, serving refreshments (tea, biscuits and bananas) to the women who were outside the dividing rope, seated on benches.

Next the Tovil dancers danced in their white costumes with the red sashes and head cloths.

This  dance led onto the dance of Skanda/Vishnu/Kataragama. During  this dance, the Deity (the son of the officiant) was paraded around the Performance Area under the white cloth held over “her” head by two men.

Following the Tea break whilst the Tovil dancers  changed costumes  and danced again - the drummers stood to drum. (They stand out of respect and to give more volume to the drumming.)

You Tube Video Links

Paddyfield Gam Madua Part 1


Paddyfield Gam Madua Part 2 - Dances and Sacred Objects


Paddyfield Gam Madua Part 3 - Dana Meal and Drumming