Folk culture, festivals or ceremonies are not peculiar to Sri Lanka. Folk festivals or ceremonies have thrived in different parts of Sri Lanka from historic times.
A vast majority of the people of Sri Lanka are Buddhists. But throughout history, folk cults with beings of supernatural powers that influence day-to-day lives of the people have entered the main stream Buddhism.
There are elaborate rituals to pacify these evil spirits and to appease the benevolent. Although not encouraged by the Buddhist clergy, there is a large following of these rituals, specially in the southern part of the country. The commonest of them is the “devil dancing”, which is a form of exorcism with quite a bit of theatrics thrown in for good measure.
The colorful and sometimes frightening masks worn by the performers, represent the good and evil spirits. These masks are all hand crafted by traditional craftesmen out of local soft woods and can be quite elaborate. The town of Ambalangoda in southern sri Lanka is famous for these masks.