A black magic (shanthi karmaya / ශාන්තිකර්මය) event in Mahawilachchiya

Last night there was a black magic (shanthi karmaya / ශාන්තිකර්මය) event in an old man’s house in my village, Mahawilachchiya​. These events are so rare nowadays but we have lucky Miss Nayab​ Rehman from Pakistan who gets to see the rarest of the scenes wherever she goes. So we got the message about this event by the evening and we went there around 9.00 pm with R. D. Kularathna​, her host in Mahawilachchiya.

We met some of our students (mostly teenage girls) and they were exhilarated to see their friend/teacher Nayab there. So girls stated giggling and a conversation started and continued between her and them.

Usually, the people who perform these black magics to cure a patient do not like being filmed or photographed. Once I tried photographing such an event at night and what the black-magician did was while he burnt camphor, by throwing it to a container of red hot charcoals he had in his other hand while dancing. He did not like me photographing him and he threw some camphor to the charcoal aiming my face. Burnt camphor hit my face and I could not open my eyes for a good 15 minutes. And that was the end of photographing the event.

But in Nayab’s case, she has a charming smile that makes even Adolf Hitler melt. She becomes friendly with anyone in the village, rich or poor, big or small and men or women. So her charm worked and the black magicians were more than happy to let her photograph and video at will. I too made most of it and took pictures and videos till both the batteries in the digital camera and the phone died.

Usually the black magics are done for several reasons. In this case, it was done to cure an illness of an old man (see the first picture.) This type of an event costs a big amount of money and preparations. Still you are not guaranteed a positive result. If things go wrong and the patient is not cured, the black-magicians have ready-made answer. They will simply say we did it the perfect way but you have done something not recommended (කිල්ලට අහුවෙනවා) – like eating beef or pork within three months of the event or walking under a clothes line or zillions of other stupid excuses and the enormous power of the black magic is null.

People still retort to such primitive ways of treating patients at a time we have a total free healthcare in Sri Lanka since one is conceived in a womb till the death inside a public hospital. If one wants to have better cure and facilities one always can seek help of a private hospital. The doctors keep saying on TV, radio and other media not to rely on these unreliable and primitive healthcare systems that have not been clinically proven and trust the western, Sinhala or ayurvedic ways of treatment for that matter. But ignorant people throughout the countries still spend much more money than the expenses that would occur at a public hospital and still end up getting nowhere. Sometimes, a patient would just be cured mostly due to the very thought that they get that they would be totally cured while the event goes on from early night till dawn nonstop. It will make a patient’s mind relaxed and he/she might just be lucky to get cured his illness. But there is no scientific basis for these age-old rituals.

Though the Buddhism doesn’t encourage these kinds of beliefs the black magicians start their dancing and drumming with worshiping the Buddha and the manthras (stanzas) they sing include a lot of singing in honor of the Buddha. I am not a researcher or a scholar on this subject and these are just my ideas and you can learn more on this subject if you read Nandadeva Wijesekera’s Deities and Demons Magic and Masks (Part I and II.)

We left around midnight and were dog-tired by the time we reached home. But it was quite an experience for all of us.

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