Organization - Mango friends Puppet Society

Mango friends Puppet Society
Basic Information
English Mango friends Puppet Society
Local language
Country Sri Lanka
Category Community organization / society
Domain Performing Arts
Function Education and Training
Established year 2005
  • The society has developed a traditional puppet to preserve the art of Puppetry for future generation.
  • To promote the string puppetry art in the Ambalagauda area in different school events by coordinating workshops on string puppetry.
  • To create national and international platform for the artists to showcase their talent.

Ambalangoda in the south coast of Sri Lanka is renowned as a treasury of traditional Sri Lankan folk art, folk dramas and ancient rituals passed down from generation to generation. The town is made famous for devil dancing employing masks; mask making, puppet show showcasing important aspects of the local culture.  The traditional puppeteers of Ambalangoda are well versed in Nadagam dance forms as well. The English word ‘’puppet’’ is used as ‘’Rukada’’ in Sinhala language. Podisirina Gurunnanse was the first puppeteer in Sri Lanka to bring credit to the country on the folk art of puppetry (introduced string puppetry in Sri Lanka). He is credited with introducing not only screens to the Sri Lankan puppet stage, but also the popular Nango Hami and Sellan Lama characters who sometimes perform introductory acts to the main play. Since then, Gate Mudalier Solomon Dias Bandaranaike, Mudalier N. Wickramaratne, Dr. Hewavitharana, F.R. Senanayake, P. de S. Kularatne and Professor G.P. Malalasekara were some of the prominent people who recognised the value of the traditional folk art of puppetry.  They never failed to extend their cooperation to promote puppetry in Sri Lanka. With the participation of an efficient group of puppeteers from Ambalangoda, Podisirina Gurunnanse formed the “Dakshina Lanka Puppeteers.”

There are several types of puppets in Sri Lanka. This classification is made in terms of the media and the nature of playing. Among the different types of puppets. Thread puppet (Nool rukada), Club puppet (Riti rukada), Shadow puppet (Sevaneli rukada), Hand puppet (Ath rukada) and Finger puppet (Angili rukada) are very famous. They can be classified as two – dimensional and three – dimensional in terms of their visual angle. The classification of puppet is mainly dependent on the versatility of the artist or player.

Due to the dominance of television the puppetry art in the society is almost in a dying stage and it needs to revitalize. That’s why the puppetry groups in Ambalangoda developed a society ‘Puppeteers of Lanka’ and established a traditional puppetry museum near Ambalangoda. The idea was developed by Mr. Ganwari Supun Gamini.

Major Activities
  • In Sri Lanka 4 types of Puppets are found in different regions – String puppet, Hand puppet, Shadow puppet and Rod puppet. The villagers of Ambalangoda are proficient in string puppetry. The community has formed 6-7 puppeteer groups and the leading group is ‘Mango Friends Puppet Society’, which has been formed by Mr. Ganwari Indika Gamini. He is the descendant of Late Podisinira Ganwary, who first initiated the art of string puppetry in Sri Lanka. Mr. Ganwari’s father Mr. G Permin is a member of National Art council in Srilanka and he was the first person to start the celebration of World Puppet Day on 21st March since 2015. The group uses traditional singing and dancing style with the use of traditional folk instruments during the show. The stories are mainly based on the life of Buddha, Buddhist mythology, history of kings of the past, folk culture of the villages and lives of great people like Ehelepola Drama, Last king Sri Wickrama.
  • ‘Puppeteers of Lanka’ promotes the traditional puppetry in national and international events. ‘Mango Friends Puppet Society’ has participated in Dhaatu International Puppet Festival 2017 in Bangalore, India; where they displayed their beautifully hand carved puppets and demonstrated their puppetry skill.
  • They have also participated in the workshops organized by SEVALANKA Foundation in 6 schools of Colombo, Anuradhapura & Batticaloa to promote the cultural heritage. The workshos were conducted to demonstrate how the puppets work and move to increase the interests in school children for traditional puppets. From 4-5 hours long workshops children also learnt folk stories of Sri Lanka. The singing and dancing in traditional style and local language also helped to promote the traditional folklores (Silon Africana, Paththolama, Sufi Ampara , Portuguese Barticuolo etc).
  • The puppetry society and the groups are mainly concentrated in Ambalagauda & Balapitiya (6 km from Ambalagauda). Only one shadow puppet team led by Mr. Kaushala Priyam Kumara exists in Kandy and some other puppet teams are there in Buttala, Matara, Yakkala, Kegalle, Kurunegala and Matale. The groups together have developed a Puppetry Museum at Balapitiya. This is a first traditional puppetry museum in Srilanka to preserve the art of Puppetry for future generation is a big step towards safeguarding ICH. The museum holds all the elements which can be seen in a puppet drama. There are also purchase facilities for the visitors to buy the handiwork of the artisan (Hand carved wooden puppet dolls).
Contact Information (Organization)
Address No.26/1, Pokuna Road, Wathugedara, Sri Lanka.
Tel +94 -77-6208447

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