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Pattini Ceremonies Myths Shrines Community Pattini Community Pattini 2 Family Pattini

Originally the festival bough was of sandalwood, today it is usually an areca tree trunk decorated with gok or coconut leaves. The representative of the community faces the bough whilst the main officiant sprinkles purified water from a clay pot over it. He announces that the ceremony is fulfilling a vow to the Deities in return for releasing the community from their troubles. He asks for the continued protection for the community from the Deities  and for all their troubles and problems to be banished. He sings incantations that describe what he is doing , and also he sings the legend of the Festival Bough.

Other tovil dancers join the main officiant and dance to the drumbeats. For this dance there were four dancers who took it in turns to dance with the torch that would eventually be placed on the bough.  All the altars and the toran are sprayed with the holy water as are the audience. The community representative produces a betel leaf which is attached with a small coin to the Festival Bough. Then the lighted torch was  brought from the Performance Area where the dancers have been dancing with it, and inserted in the top of the bough before the bough  is hoisted upright into a hole that other assistants have dug to the side of the Performance Area. Articles such as a bag of paddy, betel leaves and coins may be placed into the hole by one of the community representatives. The soil is then firmly trampled into place to support the bough. An Assistant thoroughly ”smoked” the Bough.

The torch is referred to as the Torch of Time (dedicated to Vishnu). It burns all night

(See Obeyesekere p93-96 on Text 4 for further details and interpretations of this part of the ceremony)

Planting of the Festival Bough

The officiating Tovil Dancer instructs the Community Representative where to place the betel leaf with a coin on the Festival Bough.

An Assistant “smokes” the Festival Bough with dummala. The Bough is sprinkled with purified water from the clay pot.

Preparing the Bough before it is raised

An Assistant stands by with the “Torch of Time” whilst the Tovil dancers supervise final preparations  to the Bough

The “Torch of Time” has been inserted into the top pf the Bough and the Community Representative secures the betel leaf with the coin. The Tovil dancer ensures this is done appropriately to ensure the success of the Ceremony.

When all preparations are completed, the Festival Bough is hoisted into the prepared hole.

The “Torch of Time” on the top of the Bough burnt throughout the night.

In the meantime the Tovil Dancers dance a special dance with the “Torch of Time” in the Performance Area. They took it in turns to dance with the torch. They threw dummala onto it  which flamed up around the Performance Area and took it in turns to twirl, and somersault. Towards the end of the dance the “Torch of Time” was inserted into the top of the “Festival Bough” by one of the Tovil Dancers. All the Tovil Dancers then turned towards the Festival Bough which was being held by Assistants, and saluted the Bough before it was raised in the prepared hole the other side of the Performance Area.

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Gam Madua Part 2