Ramayan in Indonesia

Discussion in 'Ramayana' started by garry420, Feb 7, 2016.

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    Islam is our Religion but Ramayan is our Culture

    Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim country. Hinduism existed here since first century and Hindu empires like Majapahid Samrajya Shailendra and Sri Vijaya Empires flourished here till 16th century.

    In Indonesia, the Hindu Javanese Kakawin Ramayana in the Old Javanese or Kawi language from the 9th century CE closely follows the Valmiki narrative but in an abridged form, for it was based on a summary in a Manuel on Sanskrit grammar. The 9th century Prambanan temple complex in Central Java and 14th century Panataran Temple in East Java is rich with narrative bas-relief carvings of the epic. Javanese influence on the neighboring island of Bali began during the 11th century, and Kawi literature also became a part of Balinese tradition. With the coming of Islam to Java and the rise of sultanates on the island during the 16th century, the Javanese adapted the epic to the new religion. The 18th century sultanate of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat, more popularly known as Yogyakarta or Yogya, was named after the capital city of Rama, Ayudhay. Rama also became one of the ancestors in the royal genealogy, and new episodes were created and borrowed for the 19th century Serat Rama that is used in the leather puppet theatre up to the present. Java could not entirely abandon fifteen centuries of Hindu Buddhist tradition. The Balinese continued the practices with great exuberance that continues today.

    In Indonesia, the world’s largest Islamic nation, Ramayana and Mahabharata are compulsory subjects in most of the universities. In the Indonesian version of Mahabharata, Draupathi has only one husband. At the famous 10th Century Prambanan temple in central Java, dedicated to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Ramayana is depicted in bas-relief in several parts. The sultan of Jogjakarta supports the daily performance of a leather puppet show of either Ramayana or Mahabharata in his Palace annexure. He also subsidizes the world’s only daily performance of a dance ballet based on Ramayana, performed with the Prambanan towers as its backdrop. The highlight of the extraordinary show is that all the two hundred artistes are Muslims. When the leading actors were asked how they perform Ramayana with such passionate involvement, the spontaneous reply was, “Islam is our religion. Ramayana is our culture.”

    One of the most important landmarks of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, is a gigantic modern sculpture, an extraordinary work of art of Krishna and Arjuna in the chariot with their horses almost flying. Garuda is the national insignia of Indonesia. Their national air carrier is Garuda Airlines. Lord Ganesha appears on the Indonesian currency note.

    The predominantly Hindu territory of Bali in Indonesia has a few thousand Hindu temples. Here one sees the strong influence of Ramayana in the sculptures and performing arts. We see two group dance performances of the Ramayana — one on a modern stage, and the other in a spiritually devout atmosphere of a temple, where some dancers are in a trance.

    The Ramayana has long been rendered on the Denpasarnese stage through the Wayang Wong which is a classical dance drama enacting scenes from the Hindu epic in sequel performances that take place over a period of three or four days. A few years ago, a new dance interpretation of the Ramayana was introduced to the island by Kokar, the Conservatory of Instrumental Arts and Dance.

    Accompanied by the Gamelan gong orchestra, The Ramayana Ballet is a unique mixture of traditional dance technique and modern motifs of slapstick comedy. The story opens in the forest of Dandaka where Rama, Laksmana and Sita have transformed their banishment into a peaceful life in the woods. Because of their ideal beauty, the royal brothers are usually danced by women: Rama wearing a golden crown and Laksmana a black headdress. Their manner is stately and heroic, the refined style of dance reserved solely for regal personages. In contrast to their noble bearing, the demon king called Rawana takes large and dynamic steps, a fiery mode of dance which shows the grand arrogance of a tyrant. Frequently, it is the animals of the Ramayana Ballet who steal the show. In Denpasar theatre, animals have license to improvise fantastic dance styles of their own. One remembers the golden deer that gaily prances before Rama yet always manages to slip from his grasp, the brave Jatayu bird that vainly attempts to rescue Sita, and of course, the inevitable monkey business. On top of adaptations, there are additions; that is to say, characters not found in the original Ramayana in the form of comic characters, Pak Dogol and Wak Long. These two became Rama's trusted companions and assistants after the death of Ravana. Pak Dogol has an unusual figure and plays both heavenly and earthly roles.
    Indonesia Ramayan Presented in Open Air Theatres

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