The trail of Rama’s tale: Ramayana’s influence on Indonesia
Although the Ramayana is a revered Hindu text, its core values of virtuousness, love, loyalty and unconditional devotion makes it popular across cultures and religions.
Though being a minority religion today, Hinduism has influenced the way of life in Indonesia. Aside from theatre plays, books, stories & artworks depicting Ramayana, Indonesia has also issued many Ramayana post stamps on Rama, Sita, and Hanuman, to date.
The country, which was predominantly Hindu until Islam came through Muslim traders in the 12th and 13th centuries, has taken inspiration from both Sage Valmiki’s Ramayana and Tamil poet Kamban’s Ramayana. The epic still remains in the imagination and cultural milieu of the country and the influence of Lord Rama has been ingrained into the consciousness of many Indonesians. The legend of Ramayana is part of their culture and goes beyond the barriers of religion and ethnicity. They have not merely romanticized the idea of Ramayana but also approached it as a philosophy of life that is integral to daily living. To them Rama and Sita are not just heroes but torchbearers of good values, bringing relevance to modern-day living.
Figure 1: Statue of Lord Rama in Bali. Photo Credit: Google
Bali is the perfect example of the living legend of Ramayana in Indonesia. One can see ornate and exquisite statues of Rama, Hanuman, Sita, Shiva, Jatayu, Vishnu, etc almost at every nook, corner, and roundabouts in Bali city and the Balinese Kecak dance delineates the Ramayana saga, with dancers donning the roles of Rama, Sita, Laxmana, Jatayu, Hanuman, Ravana, and other characters.
Here is a video of a Kecak show depicting the story of Lord Rama, Sita and Hanuman.
Aditi Engel is an ardent student of Vedanta. She lives in Germany and has a keen desire to create awareness in the youth about different aspects of life.