A Raksha mask is a mask that Sri Lankans use a lot in festivals and cultural dances. Raksha means “demon” and the masks are apotropaic which means that it is intended to ward off evil. They are painted in vibrant colors, with bulging eyes and protruding tongues and they depict various types of demons. Raksha masks are the final aspect of the Kolamritual, and they are a tribute to the Rakshasas, a race that earlier ruled Sri Lanka and could assume 24 different forms. But only a few of these forms are performed, some of which are Naga Raksha (cobra mask), Gurulu Raksha (Mask of the Bird), Maru Raksha (Mask of the Demon of Death) and Purnaka Raksha.
Raksha masks are also used to perform Raksha dances in Kolam Maduwa. According to legends, Sri Lanka was earlier ruled by a race called Rakshasas whose king was Ravana of the Ramayana. Rakshasas could assume various forms. Although they have 24 forms of Rakshasas only few are performed in Kolam dance.
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