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stilt-walker, perform extraordinary feats on a single high stilt, on which he progressed rapidly in kangaroo-like jumps. His feet were raised three or four feet from the ground on it.
There are four religious games, all intimately connected with the worship of Pattini, the Goddess of Chastity and Controller of Epidemics, in her aspect as a deity who possesses powers over certain infectious diseases such as small-pox, measles, and, as Ludovisi says, an outbreak of murrain among the cattle, the injury of crops by insects and grubs, or the occurrence of a serious drought. These games are (1) An Keliya, 'the Horns (pulling) Game'; (2) Dodan Keliya, ' the Orange (striking) Game'; (3) Pol Keliya, the Coconut (breaking) Game'; and (4) Mal Keliya,' the Flower Game.'
Pattini is a South Indian Goddess whose cult was introduced into Ceylon at an early date. In the tradition which is current regarding her in Ceylon and Southern India, she was Kannaki, the wife of a person called in India Kovilan or Kovālan, and in Ceylon Pālā Gurunnānsē, or Palanga, who was unjustly charged by a goldsmith with the theft of the Queen's hollow jingling gem-set bracelet or anklet, termed a Salamba (Tamil Silampu) at Pāṇḍi Nuwara, that is, Madura. Without proper inquiry into the truth of the accusation, he was executed by the orders of the King of Madura. In revenge, Kannaki cursed the royal family and the city, and as the result the king and his family and all the inhabitants were destroyed by fire. The illustration (Fig. 272) shows two wooden statues which are said to be those of Pattini and Palanga; they are in one of the caves at the early monastery at Nikawaewa, to which reference has been made in the chapter on the dagabas, and they may date from the eleventh century A.D. In this statue, which is probably the earliest existing representation of Pattini in Ceylon, she has plain anklets, but ornamental jewelled bracelets.
According to the Chilappatikaran, a Tamil poem which claims to be written by Ilanko-Adikal, the younger brother of
the King of Madura, called Sen Kudduva Chēra or Imaya Varman,1 when the story of Kannaki was related to this monarch and his queen the latter remarked that the chaste widow was worthy of being worshipped as a goddess. The king agreed with her, caused a statue of Kannaki to be carved from a stone brought from the Himalayas, and inaugurated the new cult.2 Mr. Kanakasabhai gleans from the poem the following particulars which indicate the origin of the belief in the power of this goddess over rain and epidemics: From that memorable day on which Kovilan was beheaded there was no rain in the Pandiyan kingdom, and famine, fever, and small-pox smote the people sorely. Verri-Vel-Cheliya, who held his court at Korkei, believing that these misfortunes were brought on by the curse of Kannaki, sacrificed one thousand goldsmiths at her altar, and performed festivals in her honour. Copious showers of rain then fell, and famine and pestilence disappeared from the kingdom. Kosar, King of Kongu, Gajabāhu, King of Lanka [Ceylon], and Perunkilli, the Chōla, erected temples and performed festivals in her honour, and their kingdoms were blest with never-failing rain and abundant crops.' The king consecrated the image of the Goddess with grand ceremony in the presence of the kings of Kongu and Malava, and of Gajabahu, King of Lanka.'3
The last part of the account is not quite in agreement with the Sinhalese Rājāvaliya, which states that as a result of his successful expedition Gaja-Bāhu brought away-evidently an act of spoliation-the jewelled bracelets or anklets of the Goddess, and the insignia of the Four Guardian Gods, as well as the Sinhalese who had been carried off as prisoners by a successful Tamil invader in his father's life-time, and double that number of Tamil prisoners of war. The Sinhalese account would thus lead one to suppose that Kannaki had become a goddess before Gaja-Bahu's war with Madura in the second century A.D.
In the Sinhalese legend, Kannaki was re-born as a demoness
1 V. Kanakasabhai. The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago, p. 6. 2 V. Kanakasabhai, op. cit. p. 93.
3 Op. cit. p. 161.
because of the destruction she had caused-some say she became a goddess-and came to Ceylon, bringing with her the two sons of the Madura king, who had also become Yakās, and accompanied by some other demons. By means of her magical powers she succeeded in forcing an entry into the country in spite of the opposition of the Four Guardian Gods, who, according to one story, endeavoured to keep her and her undesirable companions out of the island. She created a fence or mountain of fire all round the coast which the Four Gods could not face, but which she crossed successfully. In commemoration of her victory in passing through the fire on this occasion she instituted a fire-sacrifice or fire-walking ceremony, which was to be performed annually, together with at least three other festivals, in her honour. It is still maintained throughout a great part of the Sinhalese districts of Ceylon.
Several stories are told of her, and according to one of them she is now ranked as one of the Four Guardian Deities of Ceylon, the north of the island being supposed to be in her special charge.
She is believed to have handed over the control of the thirtytwo epidemic diseases to one of the Madura prince-Yakās, to cause and to cure them, while to the other prince she gave charge of all illnesses of cattle and the lower animals. As the supreme controller of the epidemics these religious games were inaugurated according to her orders, by way of pleasing and propitiating her. In some parts of the country they are played annually for the benefit of the district, and in order to ensure general prosperity and freedom from epidemics; in others apparently the An Keliya is customary only at the time when a district is threatened with an infectious disease, especially small-pox.
There can be no doubt that in another aspect Pattini is looked upon as an incarnation of the Goddess Durgā, the wife of Siva, and as such she is considered to have the Goddess Kāli, another form of Durgā, as her attendant. In Ceylon there are said to be seven different manifestations or incarnations of Pattini. According to an old manuscript of the
Kurunāēgala district, in the first she was produced from or connected with Handun, or Sandal-wood; in the second with a Manel, or Blue-lotus flower; in the third with Gem-sand'; in the fourth with water; in the fifth she was the Fire-Pattini,' who burnt Madura; in the sixth she is connected in some way with the leaf of a Bō-tree; and in the seventh she was found inside a Mango fruit at Pāṇḍi-nuwara or Madura, and was married there to a man of the Chețți caste. Other lists vary slightly.
In the Sinhalese legend, the An Keliya game commemorates an incident which is supposed to have occurred during the life of Palanga, the husband of the Goddess. While they were both endeavouring to break a flower off the top of a Sapu tree (Michelia champaca) by means of two hooked sticks, the hooks became interlocked; and although Pattini and Palanga exerted all their strength they were unable to unloose them. They summoned large numbers of people to help them, the men joining Palanga and the women assisting Pattini, and eventually the men's hook was broken, amidst the jeers of the females.
Mr. Bell, the Archaeological Commissioner, in giving a translation of part of the poem which describes this event1 has expressed his opinion that the story may contain a reference to the cult of the reproductive powers typified in the Lingam and Yōni. In its later development this may be one meaning attached to it. But if so this was probably a mere after-thought, invented as an explanation of an ancient and pre-existing religious ceremony, which, as related in the Tamil poem, was believed to have a beneficial effect in counteracting certain wide-spread evil influences.
In the Indian Antiquary, Vol. v, p. 355, a ceremony in the Sangli district is described, in which, after the cattle and 'implements of industry' have been worshipped, the body of cultivators engage in a tug of war, pulling at a leather rope until it breaks. 'It is then divided into numerous pieces which are eagerly sought after; for happy is the man who is able to throw one of these pieces into his granary, as his store is sure 1 Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1884, P. 393.