Sri Lankan Cultural Dance: A Brief insight


Sri Lanka is called the ‘Wonder of Asia’. It boasts some of the best travel places in the world with some mesmerizing natural beauties. It has also a rich history with a magnificent cultural tradition. Now, this magnificent cultural tradition wasn’t created in overnight. In fact, it has a lot of different unique elements like – the language, foods, religious beliefs, dancing, etc. So, we shall have a look at one of its major element – dancing to get an idea of why this country is revered by millions of people.




The History of Sri Lankan Cultural Dance

At first, the people of Sri Lanka master the art of dancing to worship the supernatural power. They danced to satisfy the supernatural powers or Gods because they feared them. In the 4th century (B.C.), Sri Lankan people used dancing as a means to expel natural calamities or sickness. However, at the end of Polonnaruwa era (15th century A.D.), people in Sri Lanka were greatly influenced by South Indian dancing cultures. They adopted the arts of South Indian dancing into their folk dancing. By the passing of time, people developed a new dancing style and it differed from each other in terms of regions or local destinations.

Over the course of time, Sri Lankan people have developed three distinct dancing forms. These are as follows –

  • The Kandyan dances of the Up Country
  • The Low country dances of the southern plains
  • Sabaragamuwa dances (Sabaragamuwa Natum)

Kandyan Dancing

This style was developed during the reign of Kandyan kings. Right now, the Kandyan dancing is the national dance of Sri Lanka. Typically, it impersonates the different movements of animals such as elephants, peacock. Intriguingly, this dance style depicts the iconic scenes of Ramayana stories. The Kandyan dancers wear remarkable costumes. For example – the male dancers wear skirt-like dresses in which their chest are decorated with exclusive silver regalia and stunning headgear. They also wear silver bangles on the arms and ankles.

In addition to these striking costumes, the dance performance is matched with hectic rhythms – ‘gata beraya.’ With that in mind, the Kandyan dance is performed to drumming only where the most common drum is ‘gata beraya.’ The dancers are helped to maintain the rhythmic displays by a small pair of cymbals (knows as the Thalampota).

Sabaragamuwa Dances

The Sabaragamuwa dance style is performed to worship the God of Saman. Typically, this dance is exclusively performed in Ratnapura. The local people love and revere the God Saman in a fascinating way. What’s more, this dance is style is a combination of both Kandyan Dance and Low country Dance. Both male and female dancers are allowed to perform this dance.

Low Country Dance

This is a highly ritualistic dance in Sri Lanka. Usually, it is performed to mollify the evil spirits. People use this form of dance to expel sickness from their life. The dancers wear masks to depict different characters such as demons, birds, reptiles, etc.


Sri Lanka is a different country with diverse cultural tradition. It has been in the center of attraction for many years. The above dance styles are just a prime example of why people from all over the world revere this iconic country! So, you better visit Sri Lanka once in your lifetime to experience the Sri Lankan cultural dance.

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