Kiri Amma Danaya and Kiri Dodol | Sunday Observer

Kiri Amma Danaya and Kiri Dodol

29 August, 2021

Kiridana or Kiri Amma Danaya is a traditional cultural and religious practice in Sri Lanka linked to the worship of goddess Pattini.

The story of Goddess Pattini is similar to a heroic female character known as Kannagi who lived in South India as per Silappathikaram, which is regarded as one of the Five Great Epics of Tamil literature (Ayimperum Kappiyangal). Kannagi is portrayed as an epitome of fidelity who confronted the King of Madurai (South India) over the miscarriage of justice to her husband who deserted her to pursue a dancing girl.

Buddhists believe that goddess Pattini is an incarnation of the Maithri Bodhisatva.

Kannagi in Silappathikaram

The symbol of both Goddess Pattini and Kannagi is the anklet. As per Silappathikaram, Kannagi weds a rich merchant’s son named Kovalan. He loses his wealth for drinking and for wanton women. Later, Kovalan deserts Kannagi and lives with a dancing girl. When Kovalan had exhausted all his wealth and became a pauper, Kannagi offers him her valuable anklet which was given to her by her mother. They travel to Madurai and Kovalan sells the anklet to a smith. Coincidently, the anklet of the Queen of Madurai had been misplaced and the smith thinks that Kovalan had stolen it and informs the King.

The King issues a death sentence to Kovalan. On hearing the news of the killing of her husband, Kannagi confronts the King with her other anklet and explains the difference between Kannagi’s anklet and the Queen’s lost anklet. Kannagi curses the entire kingdom to be burnt with the power of her fidelity.

King Senguttavan of Chola Kingdom, on hearing the story of Kannagi, the virtuous woman with divine qualities, erected a statue of her with a special stone brought from the sacred Himalaya mountain range and proclaimed her as the “Goddess of Steadfastness”. Seeing this, the King’s brother, Prince Ilango Adikal who is a reputed poet and a Jain acetic, narrates the story of Kannagi in a poetic form which later became one of the greatest literary works of Tamil.

Goddess Pattini

Legend has it that the adventurous King Gajaba with one of his generals named Nila Maha Yodhaya left for Kingdom of Chola and brought the jewellery of goddess Pattini along with soldiers.

The sacred jewels of goddess Pattini is said to have been buried in a jungle area in Hewagam Korale (present Colombo) and erected a small shrine. Later, an Ayurvedic doctor had found this Devalaya in Nawagamuwa area and developed it with the help of a Bhikkhu. Later, with the help of King of Kotte, buildings and statues were erected and liturgical services had begun. Nawagamuwa Devalaya is still held in high esteem by the Buddhists in Sri Lanka and offering and vows are made in the name of goddess Pattini for prosperity, wellbeing, healing as well as many mundane requirements.

Kiri Amma Danaya

Kiri Amma Danaya is a traditional cultural and religious practice of Sri Lankans which is performed as an offering to goddess Pattini. It is unfortunate to note that this practice of offering Kiridan is diminishing at present. This religious ceremony begins in the early morning and finishes prior to the day break.

Ancient Sri Lankans offered Kiridana to goddess Pattini to seek protection during periods of endemic to protect people from contagious diseases, to fulfil vows and for prosperity.

Only women take part in this Kiri Amma Dana and the number is limited to seven women. Not all women can take part in this special Kiri Amma Dana offered to goddess Pattini. Women who aren’t married, infertile women, wanton women, women who take liquor, women who sell fish, meat and liquor, hearing and visually impaired women, very old and feeble women, women who are suffering from skin diseases and epilepsy, disabled women, paralysed women, widows, women whose all children are dead. Are not eligible to take part in Kiri Amma Dane as a Kiri Amma. Most importantly, women who are menstruating on that particular day are prohibited to attend this particular liturgical ceremony.

Number seven is given a significance in this offering because the villagers believe that goddess Pattini has seven incarnations. They are Siddha Pattini, Salamba Pattini, Amba Pattini, Mal Pattini, Gini Pattini, Dewa Pattini and Sath Pattini. Seven women attend the offering to symbolize seven forms of goddess Pattini. Seven pieces of each sweetmeat is offered.

The traditional sweetmeats play a vital role in this special liturgical ceremony. The sweetmeats prepared for Kiri Amma Danaya should not be tasted prior to it being offered to the Goddess. Village women who are adept at making sweetmeats are aware of the exact amount of salt and sugar to be added by experience.

They are prepared hygienically and mostly made using coconut milk. Commonly prepared sweetmeats are the Milk rice, Kiri Dodol (Kiriya) and Kevum. Apart from that Banana and juggary are also offered.

Blue Kiri Dodol

Kiri Dodol is a sweetmeat especially prepared for Kiri Amma Danaya in Sri Lanka. It is easy to prepare and tastes delicious. Traditional Kiri Dodol are beige or light brown in colour.

The following recipe of Blue Kiri Dodol is prepared using butterfly pea flower extract. This Blue Kiri Dodol is a special recipe exclusively prepared, tried and tested by the writer.

The specialty in this Blue Kiri Dodol is that it can be used as an offering to God Vishnu whose colour is blue.


  • Butterfly pea flowers 20-25
  • Rice flour 250g
  • Sugar 300g
  • Thick coconut milk 500 ml
  • Water 100ml
  • Cardamom 4
  • Salt as required


Lightly wash butterfly pea flowers. Boil 100ml water and pour into a bowl. Add butterfly pea flower. Close the bowl and leave for 10 minutes.

In another container, add rice flour, sugar, salt and crushed cardamom. Add coconut milk and mix well until lumps are all dissolved. Then add butterfly pea water which has turned dark blue. Mix well.

Heat a pan in a medium heat. pour this mix and cook, constantly stirring to avoid it getting burnt until you get a thick consistency. The cooked Kiri Dodol should no more be runny once it’s properly cooked. This is cooked soon in about 10 minutes. Transfer this to a banana leaf and cut into pieces of desired size. Experience a difference with Blue Kiri Dodol.