The Kandyan drummer

Hailing from generations of Kandyan drummers, Panchanaada reflects on the challenges of continuing the family tradition and how he got his name. Photography by Kannan Arunasalam. Archive photography by Studio Times, Colombo.


Join the discussion: 4 comments

  • Kannan Arunasalam says:

    If you are looking for an evening’s entertainment, there’s not a great deal to do in Kandy. Our guest house owner suggested we take in a bit of Kandyan culture. I was anyway looking for an elder who could talk to me about the more artistic traditions of Kandy and so a performance of drum and dance seemed like a good place to start. 

    At the back, behind the younger, colourful dancers, stood Panchanaada, playing his “daula” proudly and with passion. After the performance, as the other tourists headed for the fire walking spectacle, we spoke to Panchanaada to arrange to meet him the next day.  

    It was so noisy with the early evening traffic and the other artists rehearsing backstage, that we had no choice but to do the interview in the van. Panchanaada told us he could spare twenty minutes today. We hardly had any time to go into the other things I wanted to find out about him, like continuing his family tradition, before he had to dash back, get quickly dressed and get up on stage. Panchanaada had told me how difficult it was to make a living solely from dancing and drumming these days, yet after his day as a farmer, almost every evening, without fail Panchanaada returns to perform. Why did he put himself through this? But watching him drumming with the same energy as the evening before, I realised something: it was because this was his “calling”.

    Same time, same place, we met Panchanaada again the next day, and after our conversation, he went out on stage to do what he’s being doing since childhood.

  • Erandhi says:

    Absolutely amazing… :)

  • Kajendrakumar says:

    Excellent initiative…!!!


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