Segments in this Video

The Preparations (41:51)


Men fashion ornaments and the Igaha from palm fronds. They build and paint the palace (vidiya) for the Suniyama ritual; the edura draws symbols in the sand underneath it. Hear the story of King Mahasammantha and Queen Menikpala tricked by a maid.

Evening Watch Sandayama (05:52)

See Kapferer's description of the edura's invocation of Buddha, Guardian deities, deceased kin haunting the victim, and Sinhala demons. Men pray to the shrine. When the ritual starts, the master edura holds the Igaha and says a mantra to the patient.

Invoking the Suniyam (07:58)

The master edura instructs the patient to think of the Buddha. He invites the Suniyam, blows the whistle, offers incense, places four torches in the palace corners, and dances to the drums.

Curtain Removal (23:13)

A white cloth is held in front of the patient until the god is ready to see her. Eduras sing, chant, dance, and walk in a circle as a group. They take turns performing elaborate head and arm movements and whirling around.

Expelling Ills (38:28)

The master edura sprinkles turmeric water on the patient and wipes her down three times. The helper cries Ayubonne three times in response to Awada. Eduras sing and dance together and take turns performing elaborate upper body movements and whirling around.

Invoking Four Gods (04:46)

The master edura dances a solo with the white cloth toward the drummer. He then joins four dancers and goes to each palace corner. The patient's illness will be brushed from her into the shawl previously used by a Buddha.

Basket Dance (06:45)

The shawl is placed on the patient's head and shoulders. Two eduras enter a singing dialogue and touch the patient with the Igaha. One dances with an offering basket as the drums increase in speed.

Healing Poetry and Invoking Vishnu, Kataragama, Saman and Nata (04:30)

Dancers recite curative verses reflecting human anatomy and recalling Buddha's enlightenment. They dedicate dances to four gods, asking them to rid the patient's sickness in return for offerings, praise, and merits. Eduras juggle and dance with lit torches.

Invoking Buddha Worshipers (07:19)

The master edura recites a poem about Buddha's feet and calls on five divine persons who worshiped Buddha to remove the patient's ills. He worships Sahampati Brahma and summons the yakku. Dancers sing of the Queen Manikpala myth.

Offerings to Vishnu, Kataragama, Saman and Nata (40:34)

Eduras recite poems to the gods and offer betel leaves. Dancers wearing headdresses pray to the shrine and perform elaborate dances. They engage in dialogue with the drummers and then sing together.

Purifying the Palace (07:48)

The edura chants praises to the Buddha and places his foot over each palace entrance. He tells four earth gods to guard from evil entering, so that the patient enters a pure place, and purifies the structure with flames. Dancers sing and dance.

Summoning Demons (11:55)

Dancers greet the patient. One begins to summon yakku with incense and mantra, calling to Suniyam's many forms. Four exorcists bless themselves and recite the seven steps of Buddha while singing and dancing.

Removing Evil and Sickness from the Patient (20:47)

Eduras recite verses of the seven steps and reincarnations of Buddha and draw a line from the patient to the palace. The master edura draws the Igaha from the patient’s forehead down the body, removing illnesses from different body areas.

Morning Watch Aluyama (33:34)

Dancers dressed as Brahmins speak in a foreign language and dance and act like foreigners. They engage in a humorous skit with a drummer. Finally, they dance and bow to the palace and the patient.

Telling the Demon's Story (11:03)

An exorcist holds a crown and chants before the palace. Inside is a red cloth representing diseased blood. He recounts the demon's origin and describes 108 different vines used to make coils.

Placing the Vines (14:17)

An exorcist places the crown on the patient's head and worships the Buddha. He places coils around the patient's body and limbs through the front and side entrances, placing lemons at her feet. The coils represent bad spells binding her.

Removing the Evil Eye (08:48)

The patient puts her feet against an ash-pumpkin, which draws ailments into it. An exorcist dancer dips mango leaves in turmeric water, sprinkling the patient three times while saying mantras to protect against the evil eye, evil mouth and evil intentions.

Cutting the Vines (18:21)

An exorcist removes the patient's crown and coils representing bad spells binding her while chanting mantras. The master edura says prayers across the palace entrance from the patient, who symbolically slices fruits in half.

Cock Crow (05:27)

The master edura chants across the palace entrance from the patient. Birds sing and dawn approaches.

Chedana Vidiya: Destruction of the Palace (40:44)

Three eduras dance with torches and "throw" flames. An exorcist uses a scythe to cut down the palace around the patient. He goes inside the patient’s house and purifies it with fire, incense, and the Igaha.

Clearing the Vidiya Ruins (12:52)

The master edura waves the Igaha over the patient as children clear debris from the palace destruction. He lies before the patient and places her white cloth over himself. She wipes the illness from her face.

Puhul Tindava (09:21)

The edura lies as a corpse before the patient. She makes three obeisances to a white cloth spread over his body, giving him offerings and a ring. She places her feet on a pumpkin placed on his stomach; incense purifies both parties.

Suniyama End (06:13)

The patient uses a scythe to cut a pumpkin placed on the edura's stomach, touching it three times. An assistant engulfs it in incense. The patient leaves the scene and the edura sits up, holding the pumpkin halves over a flame.

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Suniyama (summary documentary)

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



This program by anthropologist Barrie Machin shows the Sri Lankan healing ritual of Suniyama.

Length: 383 minutes

Item#: FPT192059

ISBN: 978-1-64867-347-4

Copyright date: ©1983

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Not available to Home Video and Publisher customers.