With a squeal of the brakes, the buses stopped just inside H.E the President’s Tele-Cinema Park. The doors opened and the international and local delegates stepped down along with other dignitaries. After a short exchange with the Hon. Dallas Allahapperuma, the local volunteers moved in to greet them with blue lotus flowers and a friendly ‘Ayubowan’.
The volunteers then proceeded to show the dignitaries and the delegates the way forward to a podium that was set up to enjoy the forthcoming ‘Perehara’ from.
After everyone had settled down in their seats, the start of the ‘Perehara’ was signalled by the playing of the bench drum. Then came the thrilling sound of the cracking whips. Young men moved forward, swinging their whips with extreme force and keeping everyone on their edge, literally. It is also said that cracking whips was used to plead the Gods to let it rain, with the crack of the whip being likened to the clap of thunder.
Then the heat was brought on by the fire dancers. Dancers moved in front of the audience and twisted flaming wheels at blazing speeds, with some even daring to throw the wheels up in the air and catch them back skilfully.
Following that was the ‘Salu Paaliya’, a dance that has developed in the two Southern cities of Benthara and Matara. This dance stands out from the rest with the dancers using masks with movable mouth pieces and the use of humourous dialogs.
Then came a traditional dance known as a ‘Devol Maduwa’ which is used to worship the goddess ‘Pathini’.
Following that was a Peacock Dance which is made special by the fact that the Peacock is the vehicle of the God ‘Katharagama’.
Later, honouring the God ‘Mangala’ there was a wood stick dance known as the ‘Mangala Pelapaliya’ that is usually carried out in villages after the harvest.
The ‘Kaavadi’ dance which followed showed the international dignitaries and the delegates the intermingling of the Buddhist and the Indian cultures.
The ‘Kohomba Kale’ dance displayed the Indian influence among the Sri Lankan Tamils. Its is also known as the ‘Arangu Nadagam’. The goddesses ‘Mari Amma’ and ‘Kali Amma’ are incarnations of the Goddess ‘Pari’ and this dance is to honour ‘Mari Amma’.
The dignitaries and the delegates kept cheering as the ‘Perehara’ progressed on with the ‘Wadiga Patuna’ which is a unique low country dance. Finally came the ‘Wes’ Dance followed by the majestic march of two elephants. After the beautiful beasts had passed through, the dignitaries along with Hon. Dallas Allahapperuma and Hon. Namal Rajapakse and the delegates walked to the lakeside dinner area that had a separate stage set out for the audience to enjoy while having their dinner.
Several dance items were performed to the satisfaction of the gathering and after a brilliant cultural night, good food and enjoyable company, everyone left for their hotels with smiles on their faces.