Sanni Yakka

Sanni Yakka


Sri Lanka

The Sanni Yakka are pre-Buddhist spirits from Sri Lanka. They were vanquished and banished by Buddha so that they are now unable to physically manifest on Earth. However, they still retain the power and ability to afflict people with illnesses and to heal them. Disease may be their way of maintaining contact with people and also retaining a modicum of veneration. Healing ceremonies involve masking and invocation of the Sanni Yakka. Yakka is now frequently translated as “Demons” or “devils.”

Kola Sanniya is chief of the Sanni Yakka. The number of Sanni Yakka are unlimited but some are more active or frequently invoked than others. The most popular (or dreaded) Sanni Yakka and their illnesses include:

• Amuku sanniya: vomiting

• Avulun sanniya: breathing difficulties, chest pains

• Biri-sanniya: deafness

• Demala-sanniya: nightmares

• Deva-sanniya: epidemic disease, i.e. typhoid, cholera

• Gini-jala-sanniya: malaria

• Golu-sanniya: muteness

• Gulma-sanniya: parasitic worms

• Kala-sanniya: Black Death

• Kana-sanniya: blindness

• Kapala-sanniya: insanity

• Kola-sanniya or Kola Sanni Yakka: lameness/ paralysis

• Maru-sanniya: delirium

• Murta-sanniya: swooning, loss of consciousness

• Naga-sanniya: evil dreams particularly featuring snakes

• Olmada sanniya: babbling

• Pita-sanniya: diseases related to bile

• Slesma-sanniya: secretions, epilepsy, seizure disorders

• Vata-sanniya: shaking, palsy, and burning sensations especially of limbs

• Vedda-sanniya: bubonic plague


Buddha; Demon; Kola Sanni Yakka


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.