© 2023 Dr. M. Sheppard

Special Tovils Baby Tovil Fishermen's Tovil Bali Tovil Family Tovil Sesanthi Pujah

Midnight Watch

These dances mainly followed the format of the Ceremonies outlined in the sections on the Tovil Dances held for individuals  (see section on Dances) However for the Ratayakuma ceremony the dancers are dressed as the daughters of Riddi Bisava and enact the myths of how this demon  mother and her daughters came to afflict women. They are dressed in white with white headdresses and long tresses of coconut hair. This series of dances lasted about one hour from 1230 to 1330.

During the Mat Dance and the break that followed it, the Tovil dancers had been preparing for the performance of the dances of the Midnight Watch.

The specially created and painted clay picture. All these clay pictures differ according to the affliction from which the patient is suffering. This depicts Kalu Kumara who afflicts especially women (see section on Demons).

For the next series of dances the drummers stood and the dancers wore the white cloth headdresses with long coconut tresses. They represent the princess daughters of the demon Riddi Bisava.  First they danced and sang the story in front of the Demon Palace.

These dances started slowly  but became faster and faster with whirling and they performed acrobatics. The dancers took it in turns to take the “main lead”.

The dancers held burning torches and the head dancer at times drew the torch across his arms and chest without feeling the burning effects of fire. He also swallowed fire during the dance.

The other dancers juggled with their lighted torches.


This dance lasted from about 1230 to 0130 approx.

There was then about a half hour break when refreshments of plain tea, biscuits and bananas were served to the audience.

Following these dances, the patient was instructed to make offerings into the Offering Basket for Riddi Bisava and her daughters and Kalu  Kumara. These demons are asked to accept the offerings and release the patient from her afflictions.

The Presentations

During the end of this series of dances one of the Tovil dancers danced with a white cloth he had had wrapped around his waist. He then secured it around the roof of the Demon Palace. - This is the First Presentation - the Cloth Presentation.

The next Presentation is the Toilette and dressing of Riddi Bisava. The head tovil dancers seated “herself” in front of the patient on a mat and mimed dressing and “preening” using the items from the basket.

N.B. the white cloth that has been presented during these dances, and tied to the top of the Demon Palace.