Ramayana Epic – “fire dance”

Performed by Ubub Tengah Community … 

The Balinese people are so devotional, when they dance their dances, they dance!  When they sing their songs, they sing!  When they play their instruments, they play!  Their hearts are in it, they smile, they move, they dance and they are enjoy each and every moment.    I am in awe each and every time I am watching these people do their thing.  I have had the good fortune of seeing two shows both about the life of Rama but each performance different in so many ways.  This Ramayana Epic was without the playing of instruments but with the beautiful voices of over 100 women making sounds and music with their voices alone.  I was enthralled by the ability of these people to create the same sounds in unison for the entire 2 hour show, and not only that,  most of them did it was a great big smile plastered across their face while they interacted with each other expressing their joy.  It was quite something.  The premise of the dance is the story of Rama.

Who is Rama, you ask?   Below is a very wordy and technical definition; there is just so much information and each piece relates to the next piece and everything is important to get the picture, even then it’s still not clear. I think learning the dynamic of each spiritual lineage/teaching I have encountered has given my mind so much to sift through; although a thorough digging would take much more time then I have so I skim off the surface, take what appeals to me and move forward.  I am so grateful to take a little piece of the teachings and make it part of my own personal practice as I develop my own beliefs and devotion one step at a time.


Rama: is the seventh avatar of Hindu God Vishnu. He is the central figure of the Hindu epicRamayana, which is the principal narration of the events connected to his incarnation on Earth, his ideals and his greatness.  Rama is one of the many deities in Hinduism and especially of the various sects of Vaishnavism. Religious texts and scriptures based on his life have been a formative component in numerous cultures of South Asia and Southeast Asia.  Along with Krishna, Rama is considered to be one of the most important avatars of Vishnu. In Rama-centric sects, he is considered the Supreme Being, rather than an avatar.

Born as the eldest son of Kaushalya and Dasharatha, ruler of Kosala Kingdom(now in Uttar Pradesh), Rama is referred as Maryada Purushottama within Hinduism, which literally means the Perfect Man or Lord of Self-Control or Lord of Virtue. His wife Sita is considered by Hindus to be an avatar of Lakshmi and the embodiment of a great woman.

Rama and his brothers Lakshmana, Bharata, Shatrughna were the chaturvyuha expansions of Vishnu(Vasudeva, Sankarshana, Pradyumna, Aniruddha). Rama’s life and journey is one of adherence to dharma despite harsh tests and obstacles and many pains of life and time. For the sake of his father’s honour, Rama abandons his claim to Ayodhya’s throne to serve an exile of fourteen years in the forest. His wife Sita and brother Lakshmana decide to join him and all three spend the fourteen years in exile together. While in exile, Sita is kidnapped by Ravana, the king of Lanka.  After a long and arduous search, Rama fights a colossal war against Ravana’s armies.  In a war of powerful and magical beings, greatly destructive weaponry and battles, Rama slays Ravana in battle and liberates his wife. Having completed his exile, Rama returns to be crowned king in Ayodhya and eventually becomes emperor, rules with happiness, peace, duty, prosperity and justice—a period known as Rama Rajya.

The legend of Rama is deeply influential and popular in the societies of the Indian subcontinent and across South East Asia.  Rama is revered for his unending compassion, courage and devotion to religious values and duty. The deity Hanuman declared Rama to be a supreme being, and said that, by chanting the name of Lord Rama, all earthly problems may be resolved.  By chanting the name of lord Rama 10 million times, Moksha can be achieved. (wikipedia)

This “fire” dance is the story of Rama, his childhood and marriage to Sita, his exile into the forest, the kidnapping of Sita by the demon king Rahawana, the meeting of Hanoman (the greatest of monkey hero) and the destruction of the demon king.  The heroism of Honoman, his fight to Alengka and meeting with Sita.  The fierce battle between Rama and the demon king’s armies, the destruction of tress, buildings and the killing of Rahawana’s warriors rescuing Sita who will not allow herself to go with the monkey hero reluctant to allow another male, other than her husband, to touch her. She proclaims that Rama himself must avenge the insult of her abduction.  After the destruction of the warriors a trance dance (Sanghyang Jaran) is performed to protect society against evil forces and epidemics.  Jaran meaning horse, the horse rider is falling into a trance by the repetitive sounds of the Gamelan Suara and in his trance state he walks on a bed or burning coconut husks responding to the rising sounds of the Gamelan Suara.

It is a lot, I know, but I also know some nerds (Esther) who eat it up, so here’s to you my friend, you will be all educated for the show when we see it together.


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