Spell, ritual and spiritual | Daily News

Spell, ritual and spiritual

The reader of the Sinhala novel titled Degodavarama written by Gamini Kandepola (published by Suriya Publishers 2020) revolves around three characters. They include two male friends Sasanka or Sasa, Sagan or Gaga and a young female, Bashini or Bashi. Sasa, the dispenser is the boyfriend of Bhashi, the young doctor. Gagan is shown as a close friend who is also a painter.

They are so close to the point that they go on discussing some of the problems related to human life, perhaps debatable and at times controversial. The two male friends enjoy life in a leisurely manner as drinking pals, while Bashini, working in a hospital clinic, is more associated with psycho-therapeutic areas hidden in the accepted canons of medical sciences.

As such, she delves into an area of darkness unfathomed by others. The main interest via scientific research that she carries on from the outset becomes a talking point among the patient as well as his two close friends. But she is being encouraged by her superior but too is a learned medical personality.

Psychosomatic sickness

But this superior too has no proper clue as to the outcome and/or the central objectives of Bashi’s research. As events ensue, the young doctor comes to clarify the concept of her research. It is being reckoned as a psychosomatic sickness prevalent in the rural sector in the minds of females. As a result of a certain spell or a mesmerising fetter caused by a person known as Kalukumara or in the literal sense, a dark prince, who has the power to enchant young girl in order to make them look feeble.

The question or the query that springs up in the mind of Bashini who finds or investigates as an in-depth study the reasons and factors that go into the malady. She comes across a young man named Kumara. But he is known as Kalukumara. As a result of being instrumental in creating this sickness. He, the Kumara, is known by Kalukumara as a result of his behaviour towards females.

The young doctor tries to obtain facts from the young man, as she feels that she had got the right person as needed for the study. But the young doctor becomes dumbfounded as at times mismanaged by the strange behaviour of Kumara. But she is more delved in her study to the extent that she sees the constant visits of Kumara, as a need rather than repulsion. She feels that she is in need of getting to know several case studies as the resultant folk cure for the same.

Research findings

At this juncture, the reader feels the working of several minds as portrayed by the creative spark in the skills of Kandepola, the creative writer. Bashi is depicted as an indefatigable doctor cum researcher. As such, she comes to grips with two main characters involved in the Kalukumara folk cult. She too comes to know of a person named Karunapala, who is also a devil dancer, who tries to help her, not knowing the real sense of the research. The other is the person named Kumara alias Kalukumara, who causes several insane agonies of damsels in the village.

The central and vital turning point in the narrative is visualised as the disagreement of Sasa and Bashi over matters pertaining to the research of the latter. But Gaga, the friend of both agree with Bashi to see a tovil or an all-night devil dancing ritual in a village residence. Bashi comes to know more about the spell of the black prince or Kalukumara distiya. She too comes to know the dual nature of the young females who so suffer from the spell.

At this juncture, she too gets to know about the real state of mind of Kumara. She gets the chance to visit her home and finds that his mother is dumb and cannot explain the state of mind of her son.

Conventional patterns

As a reader, I found that Kandepola the creative writer utilises too many aspects of the indigenous folklore. They are the ritual and the spiritual. As such, an evil spell may cause in the body and the mind of an individual as a result of certain spiteful aberrations. This includes the look or the Distiya of this Kalukumara. Kandepola tries to feel the pulse of the curing an all-night tovilaya as arranged by Karunapala in a village house visited by Bashini.

She visualises some of the evil effects caused by the mal-adjusted minds that bring about severe mental worries. This is compared with the conflicting seasonal agrarian climates denoted by the villagers as Degodavarama or the dualistic aberration that bring a conflict in the conscience and unconscious states. This nature has not been seriously delved into any creative narrative other than the work.

The characters in the work as created by the writer Kandepola undergo this dualistic nature in the minds. They as intellectuals of a certain calibre find themselves an outlet, but the poor deprived class of villages became victims of the circumstances paving the way for suffering culminating in death.

From a broad perspective, the creative work of Gamini Kandepola excels both in the content and in the structure of the narrative. The conventional pattern of descriptive and interpretative layers is pared down to the bottom giving vent to more sensitive dialogues and thought streams. All in all a resourceful creative attempt for the Sinhala reader.