Daily News Online

Wednesday, 26 May 2010



Kandyan dance Vannam

Influence of Hinduism and Tamil Tradition:

It's a reality that the Tamils and Sinhalese live together in this Island for centuries. Both these communities are linked together by religion, language, and culture. They are inter-related with one another with peace and harmony. Each community respects each others culture, traditions, religion, and the arts.

We know that many Buddhists visit Hindu Temples and worship the Hindu deities. They worship with total devotion, make vows for their different needs, and promptly fulfill their vows with devotion and dedication. Similarly many Hindus also visit the Buddhist temples and worship Lord Buddha and other Hindu deities which are installed there for worship. Such attitudes bring communal harmony, religious harmony, and mutual understanding between the two main ethnic communities. Longstanding relationship between the two communities naturally influences one another's cultural relationship.

May I digress for a moment.

My father was an ardent devotee of the Buddha. After his demise, according to his wishes, my family installed a Buddha statue at one of the Buddhist temples in Kesbawa, for public worship.

Vannam is one of the Kandyan dance forms. There are altogether eighteen Vannams in the Kandyan dance. Each Vannama is based on separate theme. The last inclusion of Vannam in Kandyan dance has provided a lot of scope for Nirthya movements in the Kandyan dance.

Generally the Vannam is based on numerous themes. It is based on various themes, such as folk legends, nature, and religion. Most of the Vannam describe the behaviour of animals such as elephants, monkeys, rabbits, cobra, and birds. Each Vannama is based on separate imaginative theme.

First among the Vannam is Gajaga Vannama. In Tamil language, Gaja means elephant. Lord Ganesha the elephant faced God is always called as Lord Ganapathy, Gajan, Gajamugan, Gajavathan, Gajendran, Gaja Nathan, and Gaja Mohan. Gajaga Vannama is based on a particular legend. It deals and explains that Iravana, an elephant, sporting in the cool water of a lotus tank. The movements of the elephant's majestic movements, majestic twists, majestic steps, are naturally and beautifully reflected in the Vannama. This is a most attractive Vannama.

There is another Vannama on God Ganesha. In this Vannama, the dancers invoke the blessings of Lord Ganesha. This Vannama is Called Ganapathy Vannama.

Another Vannama is Naiyandi Vannama. In Tamil there was a Melam (orchestra) called Naiyandi Melam which was quite popular and was in use long ago, but still in some places Naiyandi Melam is practised.

The Naiyandi Vannama is dealing with a story connected to a princely Naga (cobra); the snake charmer's movements are reflected less in this dance, but the movements of the snake are reflected more in the dance. For this Vannama, Sarpa Sirasa hand gesture is used. The Sarpa Sirasa hand gesture is used in Bharatha Natyam and Kathakali.In Bharatha Natyam the Naga Narthanam is specially a dance, which depicts the dance of the Cobra. Another Vannama called Naga Vannama depicts, the one day life of a Cobra which crawls on the floor of the court halls, and depicts how the Cobra emerges out of its hole, and how the cobra raises its hood in different, directions. This depicts the real natural movements of the Cobra.

In Bharatha Natyam the single hand Muthra Sarpasirasa and the joint hand Mutha Naga Bandha, Muthras (gestures) depict the Naga (cobra) Muthras.

Another Vannama is called Hanuma Vannama. In Hinduism, Lord Hanuman worship is worldwide, for bravery, moral strength, and protection. In this Vannama the dancer reveals the actions, and different attitudes of a monkey, through the movements, by jumping, from tree to tree etc. The dancers dress themselves as monkeys, with wrinkled faces, and jutting eyes.

Some of the Vannams are directly linked with Hindu mythology, for instance, SavulaVannama is almost based on Skanda Purana.According to this Vannama, there was turmoil between the Asuras and the Devas.

At the end Lord Skanda entered the battle field with sword, and spear, and fought with the Asuras.At last one of the Asuras was split, into two by the Lord Skanda. In Hinduism Lord Skanda killed the Sooran (Asura) who was split by Lord Skanda into two, who there- after became a cock, and a peacock.

Mayura Vannama is another Vannama.The theme of the Vannama is about the peacockVahana, of Lord Kataragama, Singhala Buddhists worship the Lord Kataragama. Lord Skanda or Lord Muruga, whose vahana is peacock, which is also called in Tamil as Mayuram. Lord Skanda or Lord Murugan is often called Mayuran. The Mayura hand Mutha is used in Bharatha Natyam and Kathakali to depict the peacock.

Another Vannama deals with the Victorious dance of Lord Iswara (Lord Shiva), after finding the Goddess Uma.It is based on a theme.

The Lord Iswara disguises himself and went in search of his consort the goddess Uma, and as he was overjoyed, after finding her, he danced vigorously with firm and majestic Thandava movements.

Musaladi Vannama is another Vannama.This dance has the influence of the Tamil word Musal.In Tamil Musal means Rabbit. In this Vannama the dancer, imitates the movements of a Rabbit.

Imaginative movements of Rabbits are well depicted in this dance, hiding with fear, jumping, running, in a zig zag manner, and hopping. At the end the Rabbit takes rest under the cool moon light.

Another Vannama deals with Lord Brahma, Lord Visvakarma, and Lord Iswara, (Lord Shiva). Lord Shiva blew the conch before the King of the universe. This particular Vannama also directly one-way or other connected to Hinduism.

There is another Vannama which is called Vairodi Vannama, which deals about the precious brilliant (diamond) stone. Even in Tamil precious brilliant (diamond) stone is called Vairam.

Hence most of the Vannams are based on Hindu religious and Hindu themes. The above said descriptions reveal that for centuries, and centuries both the major communities in the country lived together with one and other in peace and harmony. Both the communities respect and follow one another's traditional practices.


<< Artscope Main Page


LANKAPUVATH - National News Agency of Sri Lanka
Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL)
Donate Now | defence.lk


Produced by Lake House Copyright 2009 The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd.

Comments and suggestions to : Web Editor