There are three ritual times in the Mahasohon Samayama. That is the Evening ritual (Hende Samayama), main ritual (Maha Samayama) and the Dawn ritual Aluyama Samayam). The Mahasamayama is performed at Mid Night.
The origin of Mahasamayama script was as a result of the studies carried out by me on myths and legends. It was a long term exercise. My early studies on the subject of perception in order to go deep into communicative interactions on the traditional art helped me immensely in this exercise Through these studies I was able to view ancient people’s inner thinking and traditional folk art from a global perspective.
Subsequently, while examining folk drama and dance traditions, Masks became one of my favorite research subjects. It was my ambition to study the stream of consciousness that belonged to masks before it was a foot hold in the tourist industry. At the same time it was a marvelous experience to note the use of Masks globally. In the meantime in a conversation held with Darshana Piyarathne I got the opportunity to associate with a thesis done by him on “Mahasohon Samayame Wath Piliwetha Rataawa Haa Sahitya” (The rituals of the Mahasohon Samayame and its literature) . This expedited my journey embarked on finding communication interactions on local folk dance traditions. Thereafter with the commencement of looking out for global characteristics in our Sacrificial offerings/rituals, it was my desire to merge these into our creative fields.
The local measurements available for the use of traditional art and to safe guard them are in a questionable form. The reason for this is that there is no innovative mechanism in Sri Lanka to identify anthropological, psychological and communicative technological processes in traditional arts. Although there are books on “Descriptive Studies , creative books based on multiple fields with a scientific base or classical base are not widely available.
Similarly the confinement of the traditional arts as a heritage of a limited society instead of it becoming a national heritage has hindered its progression. Keeping traditional things in lock and key will lead to their destruction and opening it up for the broad society will lead to its long term existence. Safeguarding folk arts with greed will not ensure its glory or its existence.
Global drama norms are available in local sacrificial offerings/rituals.. Although the Greek Dramas had an amphitheatre, for Sacrificial offerings/rituals there hasn’t one. In Sri Lanka the areas where the rituals takes place become the stage and as such the stage was not adopted according to a global structure. Hence they are called as folk rituals.
We must understand that within our sacrificial offerings/rituals there is a dramatic visionary aspect that is not second to the basics of the Greek Dramas. Especially the sacrificial offerings/rituals are built up on a combination of spiritual, metapsychic, psychological and innovative basis. Communication between the performer and the spectator is very sharp. On the other hand the dramatic gear and the background sets have much expression. For example I have not come across a drama background similar to that of Suniyam Veediya in any traditional art form of any other country.
A main factor I discovered while studying on the Masks was that they have not been subjected to deep human or cultural studies within Sri Lanka. Although there are signs of descriptive information mentioned earlier, these conditions too are in the contemporary period getting distanced from the educational sector. We have not made use of the powerful expressive qualities of the Masks in our stage dramas.
The main problem we faced throughout the history is the urbanization of our traditional common folk art forms. Through urbanization, human values of folk art forms got diluted and some art forms and materials got destroyed leaving only a physical value to what was left out. Likewise folk dancing became an performing art item during occasions, and masks became a cultural marketing item. The other danger faced by our traditional art forms is that they were not linked to a streamlined form of education. The traditional artistes incorporated the traditional art forms to the educational methods in its traditional forms and this background did not provide much opportunity for research, further studies and innovations. Traditional adaptation was the main educational method.
There are many problems that emerge in the study of traditional art forms. When the traditional art are analyzed through the prism of culture the cultural surface becomes visible. Similarly history, literature, legend, dancing, music, costumes, and customs we do not find complete physical enlightenment or the purity of it. It is difficult to identify the hidden values, attitudes and expressions in the cultural arts performances. Therefore minimizing the gap of the traditional social era and the contemporary era and the expedition of that period relates to the identification of the way of ancient people's thinking.
Certain main limitations can be found when we study the aptitudes of the pioneers who contributed to the innovations of traditional art forms. Among this it is very important to understand knowledge and the acceptance of differences. Especially from time to time, conventions about certain things get changed. Therefore, it is difficult to identify the real value of traditional art forms without artistically understanding the conventional differences. Similarly the values of creations also change based on the self awareness of the creative artistes of different eras. The form of sacrificial offerings/rituals change based on the exorcist's self awareness. Similarly in different time periods the aptitudes of artistes get changed and this change and diversion is a dynamic process.
Most of the time, the traditional arts or creative artistes come into the contemporary studies in a stereotype form. This simplifies the group innovations. Although there could have been diversity among the chanting performance families mostly they are described in a simplified manner. According to the traditional opinion holders by differentiating into two categories as positive and negative forms lead to suppress the reality of those art forms.
There is a thinking in the society that pre judgment in the present society with regard to traditional art are adverse judgments. We have to make a re-study to identify the correctness of these judgments That is the preconceived concepts such as “enslaving to the myth”, “myth has no value”, “myth is traditional” “conservative”, “folk arts do not suit the contemporary arts” should be subjected to post studies.
In the ancient mythological art forms the ubiquitous qualities are very high. It is clear that in all cultures of the world there had been similar actions. Their objectives are common but the procedures in usage differs. Therefore, the basis of studies of traditional art forms becomes global. By studying deeply about the traditions of different countries it will be possible to identify the emergence of their innovations.
Innovative human expressions emerge from the links between the culture and the nature. Accordingly the inter-cultural values becomes powerful than the value of an individual culture. It is possible to grasp through the traditional arts how an artiste functioned especially even before the emergence of the psychology and that is not covered by the contemporary psychology under the concept of parapsychology and its traditions. The power of telepathy can also be found in the art forms that existed even in the ancient societies. The Clairvoyance which goes beyond the general knowledge and the power of Telekinesis can even be seen in traditional sacrificial offerings/rituals and the subject of masks. Therefore, we should understand that the traditional things are not merely doing art.
The traditional observations of many traditional Academics are scientific. It is a serious situation in the research sector for the failure to study the scientific basis relating to psychological, anthropological and communicative qualities containing in the art forms rather than using them and appreciating them simply as “our things”, and “things we should protect”.
The “Mahasamayama” which is being produced to invite legendary folk drama tradition to the modern stage will open up a new chapter in the Sri Lankan drama dynasty. Especially the characteristics of our rituals, sacrificial offerings and exorcisms are being used throughout this drama in a research manner. In addition to this it has used Indian adaptations of mythological stories and inter-cultural relationships of consciousness as its subjects. In this Drama, masks are being used to depict the emergence of the aspects of humanity & psychology, spirituality & exorcism and it has been used paying much attention as an introduction to the modern artistic innovations.
The Mahasamayama by basing the Indian myth and legend relating to Brahma, Vishnu, and Eshwara depicts thinking of the ancient South-Eastern people and how they influenced us in an innovative form and steers through the aspects of the link between man and the globe. thereafter it displays how the foreign mythology and forces colonized our spiritual qualities and how the power structure worked under these circumstances. How can we build the much deep wisdom required to solve the social, political, and cultural problems being faced by us? Should we try to overturn the inner forces that exert pressure on us? These are some that will be embodied in the drama.
Professor Ariyaratna Athugala.