I. Review of Ramayana in India
II. Southeast Asian Variants:
I. Wayang Activity
II. Story Cloth Activity
III. Mask Activity
QUESTION: How was the Indian Sanskrit epic, Ramayana, passed from
India through Southeast Asia?
The universal themes and ideals in the Indian epic, Ramayana, have long appealed to the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia. However, each culture in Southeast Asia has interpreted the Ramayana slightly differently. Sometimes this process is referred to as the "indigenization of Ramayana." The epic themes and ideals of righteous behavior, loyalty to family and kingdom, the balancing of good and evil, self-sacrifice for the betterment of society, morality, role of family, ideal relationships between father and son, brother to brother, friend to friend , and wife to husband provide global appeal, but also provide an opportunity for expression of local cultural identity. As a living tradition portraying the human condition, the epic reflects the languages, customs, cultures, history, religion, social, economic, and political values throughout Southeast Asia.
The legend of Rama as an individual who established human values in society can be seen and heard in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The hero is willing to give up everything no matter the cost to preserve the integrity of his kingdom. He dedicated his whole life to upholding social values and principles. He is the ideal man and one to whom all should aspire. Rama and his legend present a way of life for human beings which has universal appeal in these societies. At the same time Rama's wife, Sita, represents the goddess of fertility and is associated with rice cultivation, the fundamental economic activity in the region. The annual performances of the Ramayana variations are often connected with the agricultural cycle and are staged to assure a blessing on the farmer's work and harvest.
In ancient times, Ramayana was probably brought from India to the neighboring countries of Southeast Asia by way of oral transmission along with the puranas and the popular oral tales. The language and names of characters may change from content to conflict, but the core of the Rama legend remains constant. The plot consists of the banishment of the hero by his father, the king. During a period of exile, the hero's wife is abducted by demons. A rescue is undertaken with animal helpers. The prince and the princess are reunited by the end of the period of exile. The variations, deviations, changes, additions, and omissions in the story in each country depend on the cultural values of the people.
|GRADE LEVEL: 6th grade: 1-2 weeks following the India unit (The art project will require more time.)|
|CALIFORNIA STATE CONTENT STANDARDS FOR GRADE SIX::|
|Geographic||Identify the major regions of Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.|
|Cultural||Introduce students to major cultural forms used in the transmission of the Ramayana in Southeast Asia.|
|Historical||Increase students' understanding of the movement of culture and ideas between South and Southeast Asia.|
|IntroductoryActivities I: BACKGROUND for Ramayana in India|
FROM INDIA UNIT)
See glossary at http://uwacadweb.uwyo.edu/religionet/er/hinduism/HGLOSSRY.HTM
|Introductory Activity II: BACKGROUND for Ramayana in Southeast Asia|
Show examples of how the Indian epic, Ramayana, penetrated the different cultures of Southeast Asia through the arts by reviewing the story in the Image Library.
What are the universal patterns and themes in the Ramayana which made it so attractive to Southeast Asian cultures? How are these themes applicable to the present? In what ways does the story also support the political or social order?
|Developing the Topic I: WAYANG ACTIVITY|
|In this activity students write and perform a shadow puppet scene drawn from a Southeast Asian variant of the Ramayana. It can be an extension of the Indian Ramayana shadow puppet project found at http://orias.berkeley.edu/hero/ramayana/shadowplay_ramayana.html|
|Developing the Topic II: STORY CLOTH|
|In this activity students work collaboratively on a class sewing project to construct a Ramayana story cloth in the tradition of Southeast Asia. Students at Portola Valley Middle School are currently working on the project and we will post the refined instructions later in the year.|
|Developing the Topic III: MASKS|
teacher Brigid Corboy provides directions for mask making in this activity.
Students frequently construct masks as part of their Africa unit in the
7th grade. The Ramayana offers an opportunity of introducing the performance
mask in the 6th grade. Both India and Southeast have a rich tradition
of using masks as part of the Ramayana performing tradition.
BACK TO TOP