KANDYAN PROCESSIONAL DANCE
Kandyan Processional Dance Sri Lanka's preeminent Buddhist site is the Temple of the Tooth Relic, built in 1701 in Kandy, to house a relic of the Buddha's tooth. The Bandara Clan family has been associated with the Tooth Relic since even before the temple was built, beginning in 1627. In the early 18th century the Bandara Clan was appointed to attend the Tooth Relic with ritual the chanting of verses honoring the 24 previous Buddhas. This was done with the accompaniment of drums and tambourines. Eventually the event evolved into a mass procession through town, the Tooth Relic was borne on an elephant. The Bandara clan adapted their chanting into a processional dance form as an offering to the 24 previous Buddhas in honor of the Tooth Relic. The Bandara clan is responsible for maintaining four such dance rituals; they have produced qualified dancers, singers and drummers in an unbroken tradition.
Sri Lankan dance forms are hybrids of very ancient indigenous tribal forms and southern Indian dance, dating to the 3rd century BC.
In modern times, dancing is still ingrained in the cultural life of Sri Lanka; it is performed for nearly every political, social, and religious function. The Police, Army, Navy and Air Force each have their won full-time "band" or troupe dedicated to supplying dance and drumming for official events.
Modern times and new dance techniques, economic strains and rural drain - young people moving to the cities - all threaten the once commonplace occurrence of Buddhist danced rituals in the countryside. While dance per se exists throughout Sri Lanka, its Buddhist expression in rituals is being diluted by lack of resources, very little archiving of historical resources and the lure of quick money to be made from performing diminished rituals for tourists and at weddings.