© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

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Mat Dance

One of the Tovil dancers started the dance leading up to the Mat Dance N.B. the cock in the Performance Area near the patient. Elaborate preparations were made for the Mat Dance to follow.

Led by the Tovil Dancer carrying an Igaba, the patient was then led around the dance area with two attendants holding a white cloth over her head. She carried an Offering Basket on her head.

This dance is often done when the Tovil is being held for a woman patient.

The patient then returned to her bed beside the Performance Area.

The Demon Palace was thoroughly “smoked”  to call the demons to the area to receive their offerings and then release the patient from her affliction.

Then “fire” was “thrown”. The Tovil Dancer was singing about what he was doing. This fire represents the fire in the Himalayas from which Ridi Basava and other demons emerged.

An assistant topped up the offering baskets

The Tovil dancer who was to perform the Mat Dance carried the rolled up mat under his arm. The mat was thoroughly “smoked”.

He then danced slowly around the Performance Area carrying the rolled up mat. As he danced he sang the Song of the Mat Dance (see section on Dances:Mat Dance for the words of this song).

At the end of the Mat Song and Dance, the tovil dancer unrolled the mat in front of the patient. Special lights were placed by an Assistant at each corner of the mat.

The Tovil dancer lay on the mat. The patient rubbed a red cloth over her head

She then wrapped  it around her head and then threw the cloth to the Tovil dancer lying  on the mat

The red cloth was spread over him. He was holding the Igaba and Bamboo Pipe which he would blow to summon the demons.

N.B. the poison pipe in his left hand.

The whole area around the mat and Tovil Dance was thoroughly “smoked”

The Tovil Dancer blew periodically on the bamboo pipe to call the demons. In his other hand, he was held a fire stick.

Whilst reciting mantra, the Tovil Dancer exorcised  the invasive demons with the igaba. He touched the patient with the igaba and then drew out these demons  from the  patient via himself and into the cock.

He touched the patient with the Igaba and then touched the cock - exorcising the problem from the patient to the cock. When this  exorcism was completed the Tovil dancer then threw fire around the whole area to chase away any residual demons and the patient went into the house holding the Igaba to protect her.

There was then a short break. This marked the end of the Evening Watch and it was now midnight.

All was now ready for the Mat Dance to commence.