International Dance Council

Official Partner of UNESCO

Sri Lanka

There are four main styles of Sri Lankan classical dance:

  • The Kandyan dances of the Hill Country, known as Uda Rata Natum;
  • The low country dances of the southern plains, known as Pahatha Rata Natum;
  • Sabaragamuwa dances, or Sabaragamuwa Natum.
  • Bharatanatyam that originated in Tamil Nadu but also performed by numerous of Sri Lankans.

Kandyan dance takes its name from Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka This genre is today considered the classical dance of Sri Lanka. In Sanskrit terminology it is considered pure dance (nrtta); it features a highly developed system of “tala” (rhythm), provided by cymbals called “thalampataa

The four classical dance forms differ in their styles of body-movements and gestures, in the costumes worn by the performers, and in the shape and size of the drums used to provide rhythmic sound patterns to accompany the dancing.

The main distinguishing feature between Kandyan and Sabaragamu dancing, and Ruhunu dancing, is that Ruhunu dancers wear masks.


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: Wikipedia Read


(29 10 2022 CID Seminar RAMAYANA : The story of Rama)

Article :  Waidyawathie Rajapakse   “On the Origin and Early History of Sri Lankan Dancing: Between Spirit Beliefs and Great Tradition, Appeasement of the Gods, and Healing Methods”

Read the article

List Of Dances

Kandyan  Sri Lanka

Kohomba Kankariya Sri Lanka

Naiyandi      Sri Lanka

Pahatha Rata Natum   Sri Lanka

Pantheru dance  Sri Lanka

Sabaragamuwa  Sri Lanka

Vannam Sri Lanka

 Ves Sri Lanka

Udekki Sri Lanka


 The Kandyan, or up-country dances, are regarded as the classical dance tradition of Sri Lanka

The South Indian form, and particularly the influential form of Kerala is said to have arrived during the early 18th century, when the King of Kandy invited dancers and musicians from Kerala to his court.

However, it is possible that it was only one more wave of Indian influence, since probably some of the Buddhist music and dance traditions may have already been adapted from India in the centuries BC when Buddhism was received in Sri Lanka.

There are five distinct types; the ves, naiyandi, uddekki, pantheru, and vannams.

 They are known as Uda Rata Natum


Credit : Asian Traditional Theater and Dance




Region: Hill Country

Ethnic group:

Spirituality :

Kohomba Kankariya

In this ritualistic dance the one story tells about Sita and her three sons and the story of Vishnu incarnating as Rama under an inauspicious aspect of Saturn . The malefic planet, and in order to avert its evil effects, he left his queen, Sita, and taking the guise of an elephant passed the seven unlucky years in the forest.

For centuries, Kohomba kankariya was the most important ritual in Kandyan villages

Author Dr Uma  Narayana Murthy




Region: Hill Country

Ethnic group:

Spirituality :