"Daha Ata Sanniya" is a traditional dance ritual held to exorcise 18 types of
diseases from the human body. Though an extremely colourful and vibrant pageant,
most Sri Lankans do not get the chance of witnessing it, due to the
performance's exorbitant costs and the long duration. The origin of this Shanthi Karmaya (blessing)
took place in the times of ancient kings and was performed in the southern and
western parts of the country. According to the story, while King Sankapala was
at war, his wife who was pregnant had a sudden craving for a certain variety of
mango. As she ate it, her maid of honour too had wanted a piece of the fruit,
but had been refused by the Queen.
Angry at this refusal, the maid cursed her
and when the King returned after the war, told him that the Queen had conceived
out of wedlock. The story was believed and the Queen was sliced in two with a
sword. The baby was born and ate off his mother and so, a devil was born. As the
story goes, lead by this devil, 18 other devils were created and they in turn
came to towns and cities and began to spread in the form of diseases. It is to
counter this type of sickness that the Daha Ata Sanniya originated. 'Daha Ata Sanniya" will be performed in two
sections where the first part will consist of seven palis, while the second part
will be performed as the 18 sannis. The mask known as Dahaata Sanniya or ‘eighteen
disease’ is studded with 18 diseased faces atop a pair of their gods and two
spirits one the spreader of pain through disease and other the saviour is placed
vertically apart. Prof. M.H. Goonatilleka explained that in folk religion this
is in vogue. He explained that "Pritiatory magical and therapeutic effects of
mask and attendant rituals of Sri Lanka are still not forgotten in the remote
parts of the country. The dancer donning demon masks may not be aware of the
significance of ritual transformation and the assumption of the role of the
you pass Kegalle on the Colombo-Kandy road there is a mighty rock near Mawanella
called Utuwankande, where once lived Saradiel known as the Robin Hood of
Sri Lanka. Sentence of death was executed on this bandit believed to be the most
daring brigand that ever lived in this country on May 07, 1864.
Deekirikevage Saradiel was born
on March 25, 1832. His father was a tobacco merchant from Haldanduwana,
Dankotuwa whose business made him to frequent the Kegalle District. For some
time he lived with one Pitchohamy near Utuwankande. Saradiel was the eldest son
born to them. The boy was sent to Illukgoda
Temple for his education. At the temple school, Saradiel proved to be
intelligent but he used to quarrel constantly with other students. His studies
came to an abrupt end when he was arrested by the Police and severely dealt for
assaulting a rich boy a close relative of the village Vidane.
Saradiel even in his young days
formed a gang and began to defy the law. There is a legend that Saradiel got
hold of a rich merchant from Kandy called Bawa who fleeced the villagers by
selling glittering wares at exorbitant prices, cut half of Bawa's mustache, took
much of his money and wares and distributed them among the poor villagers. Soon
Saradiel's name came to be associated with various thefts in the area but he
managed to escape the hands of the law. Subsequently Saradiel left the
village and secured employment as a barrack boy in Colombo. At the barracks he
came into contact with soldiers and learned to use guns and other weapons. After
some time Saradiel left this place carrying some weapons and valuables. Saradiel came back to Utuwankande
and began to associate with the notorious criminals in the area. He chose a
career of highway robbery and soon daring exploits of Saradiel came to known in
the district. He is said to have murdered and robbed a rich Natakoti Chettiar
and was arrested. But as there was no evidence to prosecute Saradiel, he was
discharged. However as a consequence of robbing Molligoda Walauwa, a warrant was
issued for the arrest of Saradiel...
To the untrained eye, it's just a bit on the pale side. To scientists and Buddhists, it's a miracle. White elephants are seen once in a blue moon. So it seems apt that such a fabled creature was sighted in southern Sri Lanka last month during precisely such a rare lunar event (when a second full moon appears in a single month). And after government scientists confirmed that the fair-skinned elephant witha herd in the forests near Yala national park could be classified as a true albino, the fanfare that resulted made any fuss over the moon pale by comparison.The scientists claimed this was the world's first, scientifically certified sighting of a white elephant in the wild, and the news was flashed around the globe.
Sue, as the forest rangers call her, is among a social grouping of 17 pachyderms. Her rather ordinary-sounding new name means "White" in Sinhalese. Vijitha Berera, a veterinarian from Sri Lanka'sdepartment of wildlife conservation, says the elephant is "a new national treasure", and adds: "We hope she might be pregnant." But Sue appears to be only 11 years old, and unlikely to reach sexual maturity until she is 15.
A rare albino elephant has been spotted roaming Sri Lanka's Ruhunu National Park, the first recorded sighting in the country. The pale-skinned pachyderm, thought to be around 11 years old, lives with a 17-strong herd of adult females and youngsters. Tracking the herd's movements could help researchers devise new strategies for the protection and management of Sri Lanka's elephants. "This is a rare and excellent opportunity for research," says Dayananda Kariyawasam, director-general of the Department of Wildlife Conservation in Sri Lanka, which is now monitoring the animal'sprogress.The elephant, named Sue after the Sinhalese word for 'white', has been seen several times in the past few weeks.
"She's just hanging around," says veterinary surgeon Vijitha Berera from the Centre for Conservation and Research in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where the sightings were made. "We hope that she might be pregnant," he adds.There were rumours of sightings of an albino elephant in the same area about seven years ago, although its existence was never confirmed. Berera believes this to be the same animal.Albinism is extremely rare in the wild. The condition arises when the body fails to produce melanin, the pigment that gives hair, skin and eyes their colour. A variety of geneticmutations lead to the condition, which crops up occasionally in birds, reptiles and mammals. Researchers are hoping to test dung from the albino elephant to determine which mutation she has. In most cases, the genes for albinism are recessive, meaning that an animal must inherit two copies of the gene (one from each parent) to become albino. So unless the Sri Lankan white elephant finds a male with a similar gene, she is unlikely to give birth to an albino offspring.