Old Dramas in Sri Lanka

Rajathun Kattuwa (Trio Kings)

A drama demonstrates the Jesus’s birth completing 262 years.

There are many benefits received through the dramas inline with Christian culture. Even it has influence the dramas of prof. Ediriweera Sarachchanjra’s Maname, SinghaBahu, and ect. Specially the music and dramatic literature of old. These dramas of old solely based on the folk dramas of  Catholic culture. The most significant and the oldest drama is “RAJATHUN KATTUWA” which completes 262 years. This drama is still alive on the stage at Duwa village. Duwa ‘Dheewar Janaranga Kala’ centre planning to stage this in 2010 CE.

Some of these dramas could depict the same qualities of Indian Therukku folk dramas. These dramatically styles and patterns had descended through the missionaries who had arrived to preach from India. They had a very good training in the dramatically Christian worship of India. India had influenced through the Portuguese. Later it had mingled with the dramas of India and migrated to Sri Lanka. It is believed that the first Sinhala script writer of Christian dramas. Pillippu Singho lived during 1770 to 1850 CE had produced and written the Rajathun Kattuwa. He was a catholic. Other than this drama he had written many dramas such as Ehelapola, Mathalan, Senegappu and Singhawalli ect.

Later this script of Rajathun Kattuwa had disappeared or destroyed. So there were not any evidence to prove it.

Some believes that “Rajathun Kattuwa” had written by a resident of Chilaw Mr. Mihindukulasooriya Gabrial Fernando. It was in 1746 CE found in a diary of a descendent of his generation. It revals that he had lived before Pillippu Singho. This script had received from a grand son of Gabrial. He is Emmenual Fernando. Mihndukulasooriya Gabrial Emmenuel was born in 1864 died on the 6th of May 1953. when the time is calculated found Mihindukulasooriya was born in the 18th century.

The Narrator is Mr. Manuel James Fernando of Negombo also a member descendecit through the line of Mihindukulasooriya Gabrial Fernando. This ‘Rajathun Kattuwa’ drama has been performed in every five years says M. Gaberial Fernando. (by Dheewara Janakala centre) 107 actors participate in it. It is performed on the 6, 7, 8th 9.00 to 12.00 clock noon and 2-5 O’ clock in the evening for 18 hours. The script is conserved by the Narrator Manuel Fernando. It is hand written script.

A copy of the edited drama in 19 century perfervid with Archbishop Edmon Peris. These are also hand written scripts. The first and second scripts both were written in Chilaw. Present script with Mr.  Manuel James which was found later. It was a script of Duwa. That was written by Marthelis teacher. He has a nike name. Manghockka (manioc) because he was fond of manioc. In some books he was called Carolis Gurunnanse.

The above mentioned two scripts had found in Chilaw was from Pitipana road. The second edition was done in 1882 CE. The drama was performed in Chilaw early and after sometime it had performed in Duwa and Pitipana also. It was performed with the mediation of “Sudu Swami” a priest. It had performed in gradure during 1933-1935 reveals in books. “Rajathun Kattuwa” drama organized and narrated by U. James Fernando in Edanda Rai Negombo and The “Rajathun Kattuwa” organized by Manioc Gurunnanse had performed in Duwa were mentioned. But not revealed either it was first or the second script. Whatever the miracle is that this drama has been performing for the past two centuries continuesly through out Chilaw to Pamunugama. The story based on the birth of Jesus born in manger in Bethlehem is performed by this “Rajathun Kattuwa”. The first scene is performed by Kolama, Kolandena, Konangiya, Bahubbulaya the clown. He relates some wise words with withy gests. Then comes two preachers.

After reading the story state mathematicians and angles appear. The kings Augustus seesor inquires about the conditions prevails in the country. The civilans comes for the senses with many gifts to obey the command of his exellancies. All their tribis, cast and leave the senate. Then comes the Narater and the rest Virgin Mary’s and Joshphs roll and the birth of Jesus in a manager describes by the narater in a poem. The angles bring the batter fragrant flower milk oil ect and sing songs of blessings for the prince.

There are three episondes included in “Rajathun Kattuwa” drama. In the past in three nights it was performed. Sometimes it was performed in the day. The drama performed in the the day at Duwa. They were paid Rs. 250 as a contribution. The stage was built on a land centred between the sea and the lagoon. Beside there was a coconut grove. Many presented for the drama. Some actors were accompanied through the village. Even today the actors with costumes were brought from three seperte roads towards the stage. A cart with big wheels decorated  as a ship is being pulled with several people. They are arriving through the lagoon and the sea. It is still demonstrated as it is.

Duwa villagers believe that this drama is not only for their entertainment but they could earn some relief to their saules in spiritually also. The dedication made by the president of “Dheewar Janakala Ranga” center and shiver Lukes Fernando’s and the parish priest of Duwa are appreciated by everyone says, Manuel Joseph Fernando.

The drama id performed on 6,7 of January. All the old actors knew the tunes and the pattern of drama. It is not a difficult task to train them. when they were informed of the date and the place where the drama was performed immediately were brought. They did their duty by sharing the work.

These information was gathered by a professor. M.H.Goonathilaka if not the information would not revealed all would disappeared about “Rajathun Kattuwa” drama. As the present actors do not have much experience in “Rajathun Kattuwa” drama the training pprogrammes has had to extent for about six months. Says the Narator Mr. Manuel James Fernando. The training is done by deviding the actors into three catogaries shepherd, angles, sensors. In the older days the roll of woman were performed by the men. But today women also engaged in the performance so there are about 20 women participate in the drama says Mr. James Fernando. But today Duwa villagers are unable to participate as they had in the past. Many fisher folks have engaged in the fishing by trollers travel very far append many days is one reason. The attitudes in youngsters many havetarvel aboard for the employment are the other reasons. Now the expenses incurred up to about 10 laks to perfomed the drama. This challenge has to be conquered says Mr. James Fernando.

These valuable creations influenced by the Catholic culture must be gifted to the future generations. It has to be the determination of all the Christians and I urge to adhere to it.

The Rajatun Kattuva Story of the Three Magi

By Pro. M.H. Goonatilleka Head, Department of Fine Arts, University of Kelaniya.

Raja tun Kattuwa literally means a group (Kattuwa) of three kings. It was as its story the narrative of the nativity of Jesus Christ and the adoration by the Magi (Magio or Magos) this is recorded in the Gospels. As stated in S. Mateus.

“now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem od Judea, in the days of king Herod, behold, Magi came from the east to for we have seen his star in the East and come to worship him”

The “Rajathun Kattuwa” is a dramatic presentation in the style of a Nadagama. It is an operatic and ballatic theatrical performance: and in the “Rajathun Kattuwa” we notice a meaningful integration of theology and social aspirations of the fisher folk Negombo Duwa.

The theme of Nativity has been presented in this form in several pockets in the island, both in Sinhala and in Tamil. Several version have existed in Sinhala: (1) the “Rajathun Kattuwa”of Gabirial Fernando of Chilaw; this play could be placed in mid 18th century and (3) the Duwa “Rajathun Kattuwa” whose authorship is not clear although its antiquity is fairly well established. Among other Sinhala works of this kind is the “Rajathun Kattuwa” attributed to a reputed artist – cum- smith popularly referred to as Philippu Singho.

Unfortunately this work is not extant. Among the Tamil versions are Muvirasakkal or the Munrrusakkal Nadaham edited in 1966 by the late Pro. S. Vithiananthan after comparing several scripts belonging to A. Thevasakayampillai of Achchankulam. V. Santiago of Kovvankulam and Arulanandan Cross of Pesalai Murukan.

Last Update: 29-07-2015

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