Ramayana in Malaysia

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

  1. garry420

    garry420 Well-Known Member

    We Rule in the name of Ram’s Paduka

    "Hikayat Seri Rama" the oldest extant copy of Malay version of Ramayan is known as a gem of Malaysian art and culture. Described by English scholars as a Malay literary work of "a Hindu prose narration with a few Islamic adjustments here and there" ...at the onset, successive copies gradually omitted more and more "unislamic beginning" of the saga. Another aspect of "adjustment" applies to names. For example, Dewata Mulia Raya or Greatest Divinity in Hindu has been replaced with Allah Ta'ala, the heroine Sita Devi becomes Siti Dewi. Probably the adaptations make it more appealing to the locals. Children got simplified versions as school texts before and during early days of independence at a time when Malay books were scarce.
    In Malaysia where Islamisation began earlier during the 13th century, the divine status of Rama was greatly reduced. He is more human, capable of committing errors and susceptible to his emotions, thus retaining and gaining acceptance among Malay Muslims by the 15th century. Through various indigents in Hikayat Seri Rama and Cherita Maharaja Wana that were written during the late 16th or early 17th century, all the main characters are closely related to each other, with Sita as the daughter of Ravana, and Hanuman being the son of Rama and Sita. The contest to win the hand of Sita involves numerous tests of the problem over the succession to the throne. It describes King Dasharatha as the great grand son of Adam, and Ravana becoming the emperor of four worlds by the blessings of Allah. Hikayat is studied today in Malaysia as a piece of literature.

    The large number of new episodes, especially in the leather puppet theatre, shows how popular Ramayana remained in Malaysia due to centuries of Cambodian and Thai influences with which it shares many features. Tok Dalang the puppeteer always uses the same puppets. To be double sure there is no confusion, the main characters always have their "fixed colours": Rama is dark green, Sita is yellow, Laskhsmana is red, Hanuman is white and black for the evil Ravana.

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