Dance drama of ‘Ramayan’ performed in Prambanan temple in the island of Java in Indonesia

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1. Ramayan given preference in Muslim-majority Indonesia

In Indonesia, which has 95 percent Muslim population today, everyone was a Hindu 400 years ago. This fact is supported by most of the Indonesians. Despite being Muslims these people have names such as Vishnu, Surya, Rama, Bheeshma, Yudhisthir and Bheem. Despite being Muslims they give preference to Ramayan. In the island of Java, they refer to Shriram, Devi Sita, Ravan and Lanka as Rama, Shinta, Rhavan and Alenkapuri respectively.

 

2. Dance drama on incidents from the Ramayan
being famous since centuries in the island of Java and even
today it is performed every day in the sprawling courtyard of the temple

Java is the largest island of Indonesia and for several centuries events from the Ramayan are enacted here through dance and drama. Situated 17 kilometres away from the town of Yogyakarta is the village of Prambanan. There is a committee of temples called Chandi Prambanan, ‘Chandi’ means temple and ‘Prambanan’ means Parabrahma. Thousands of devotees and tourists come every day to visit this temple which was once the tallest in the world. In the vast surroundings of this temple every night dance drama on various events from the Ramayan is performed from 7 to 9 p.m. During the summer, this dance drama is performed on a large platform in the outskirts of the temple and in the monsoons in an indoor stadium.

Artists performing the act of Shriram lifting the bow during Sita swayamvar from Ramayan in dance form
Jatayu fought with Ravan when he tried to abduct Sita. Artists performing the act of Ravan killing Jatayu.
Artists enacting the event of Hanuman meeting Sitamata and handing over the ring sent as a gift by Shriram.

 

3. Some of the events
from the dance drama based on Ramayan performed
on the island of Java and the special features of the dance drama

In this dance drama, the incidents of swayamvar of Sita, Marich disguising as a golden deer, Ram and Laxman chasing that deer at the request of Sita, Ravan abducting Sita and his slaying of Jatayu, Hanuman giving the ring of Shriram to Sita, Hanuman setting Lanka on fire, the battle between Ram and Ravan, Sita passing the test of fire etc. are all beautifully enacted with extremely beautiful expressions and gestures.

This is a traditional dance drama form performed on the island of Java in Indonesia by 20 artists with extremely beautiful expressions accompanied by traditional music, interspersed with narration by the compere. Though the music is in Javanese the emotions and gestures by the artists make it easier to comprehend. While seeing the performance, our eyes get completely focussed on the dance drama. Due to the beautiful presentation one feels as if one is actually seeing the Ramayan.

 

4. Gratitude

Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale always says, “No matter how many great men and kings there are on earth, people will never forget Shriram and Shrikrushna, because they were Divine Incarnations.” In spite of being far away from Bharat, the people in Indonesia have preserved the ideals of Shriram through the dance drama of Ramayan. Despite being several yugs (eras) since Ramayan has happened, the tale of Ramayan is narrated all over the world in different forms. Let us salute these devotees who sing the glory of the Divine play of Shriram, the incarnation of Shrimannarayan. Let us offer gratitude to Paratpar Guru (Dr.) Athavale for enabling us to experience and learn all this.’

– Shri. Vinayak Shanbag, Indonesia

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