he thousands of devotees, who frequent the Kandy Esala Perahera, see that the perahera come to an end only after the water-cutting ceremony. But, that does not end after the water -cutting ceremony, but really ends after the blessings showered on the tuskers, elephants, Nilames and the most important sector - the dancers and drummers.
In the earlier days, this was a secret ritual was enacted exclusively for those who participated in the Perahera, but over the years the ritual - Walli Yak Mangalaya has created a position for the people to participate as well.
This is just a religious activity, but it forms a forum for the young in the land to get together and to get to know each other. The fact is shown, when families with their relatives in the higher ranks mingle either at the Sri Dalada Maligawa or at the Devales.
On the other hand people who gather to see the pageant mingle in the streets and get to know each other from their own or other villages and perhaps some of them end in marriage too.
Thus, the conclusion of the Kandy Esala Perahera is marked with the Walli Yak Mangalaya, which is performed for seven days at the Maha Vishnu Devale, where at the end of the ritual the Gara Yakka appears to the calling of the performing dancers and seeks offerings to depart in peace.
At this function, the dancers from Aluthnuwara dance for seven days, from the day after the Water-Cutting ceremony and on the seventh day, the calling for Walli Yak is performed.
Young men and women, who know the existence of the Walli Yak Managalaya vows by tying vows on the ‘tail’ of Ves Dancers mostly by unmarried couples and mothers to give their daughters in marriage before the next Walli Yak Mangalaya. This ritual is entwined in legend and folklore and part of the ritual is borrowed from Khomba Kankariya.
This ritual is believed to be the oldest form of dance ceremonial known also as Kohomba Yakkum. The origin of this ritual is popularly attributed to King Panduvasdeva’s time. The first mention of this dance is in the Kuveni Asana. Khomba Kankariya was performed out of love and compassion for King Parakara Bahu VI of Kotte, according to J.E. Sederman. The older Yakkdessa’s are aged and one of them, the oldest passed away, about six months ago and with him most of the oldest stanzas. For seven days the dancers perform at the Devale of Maha Vishnu, first by tying young coconut flower over the area of the performance, which becomes the focal point of the performance. On the seventh day, the flower is brought down and then the dancers dance first anti-clockwise and then in a clockwise direction.
The people who witness this process pick the coconut flower and take them away to be tied in their homes until the next Walli Yak Day.
On the seventh day, Gara Yakka enters, who had been called for seven days and seeks offerings, which is in the form of Kiribath, oil cakes, water and coins for him to depart in peace.
As the story goes, Gara Yakkum was introduced to Sri Lanka during the reign of Maha Deliya Mana. Gara Yakka was in fact a prince, who was banished by his father King to the wilds due to the fact that he married his sister, of course not due to himself alone but due to the irresistible beauty of his sister, which he could not resist. Gara Yakka according to the astrologers, who had seen his horoscope after he was born, warned the king and queen, that he would have a sister of exceptional beauty and that he should be sent away from the country.
Bringing out the receptacle for vows
The girl Giri Devi is said to have been taken to the farther end of the kingdom and housed in a building that no one could reach, surrounded by king’s guards. It is said that the prince became a priest, who had powers to fly. But one day when he was flying through to another part of the kingdom, he had seen Giri Devi not knowing that she was his sister. Following that he had fallen from his position of priesthood and said to have raped her. From then on, both were driven into the wilds and lived as husband and wife.
Gara Yakka had a voracious appetite and it is said that he was ordered by Goddess Pathini to clean the home of God Kataragama, for Goddess Pathini to arrive, and Gara Yakka had done the needful by eating all the furniture and devouring all that was there and had scolded God Kataragama for not giving him enough to eat.