A night with KADAWARA
Remember the song, "it's dark and cold tonight, is anybody there"?
Well.. it was dark, but not cold and yes... there was somebody out
there... not just an ordinary somebody but a devil, a devil called
Kadawara, on a dark night in a village called Kiravalagama, 19km away
This was his night; when the villagers held a Kadawara Pooja to
summon him to cure them of illnesses, remove certain curses bestowed on
them, or to seek his advice on amassing a fortune.
Nisansala Karunaratne who was there, throughout the night, was so
fascinated by what she had seen, when she came to see me on Monday, she
quite forgot she had spent more than an hour stuck in traffic trying to
get to the Lake House from Maradana.
Confessing that this is not a strictly scientific narration, she
explains what she had observed on the night of this pooja, for Kadawara,
believed by the villagers to be a devil who serves God. "The night
started with offerings made to the Gods Vishnu, Kataragama, Nath and
Godesses Pathini. There were many items in the pooja, rice, seven
fruits, seven sweets, coconuts, roti, toddy, arrack and even some blood
from a chicken."
She was fascinated by the midnight ceremony: The barefooted villagers
their bodies slick with sweat, sans mobile phones or even wristwatches:
Torches lining an earthen arena: The rhythmic beat of drums.
The smell of smoke: A figure entered, back first and the rhythm of
the drums changed, intensified. The figure whirled and the patient was
suddenly presented with the face of his tormentor!
Continuing to describe what she had seen Nisansala says one of the
things that grabbed her attention was the Kadawara yahana made of wood
and coconut leaves. "The Kadawara yahana is not seen in every Kadawara
Pooja. The one I saw was constructed from what the Kapumahaththaya had
seen in a dream".
Enthraled by this ritual lasting up to twelve hours, mixing raucous
humour with deep-rooted fears to create a healing catharsis, Nisansala
adds, it was only after the entire ceremony came to an end that she
became aware of her surroundings.
"I was speechless with the breathtaking beauty around me. I felt the
Singharaja forest standing behind me was like a giant protecting my
soul. The tea bushes smiled with me. The water streams whispered
Naturally she was not too keen to leave Kiravalagama. "I left my soul
in that environment". She concludes "Only my body is here in the hustle
and bustle of the city".
This explains why she can tolerate the maddening life in the city
with such a tolerant smile.