39 Years of Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata, Indonesia

The only group to perform Ramayana for 39 years non-stop

Ramayana Ballet Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Shubhi Mangla

In Purawisata Yogyakarta, Indonesia, this organization has been performing Ramayana ballet every single day since last 39 years. 

What is Ramayana Ballet?

Ramayana ballet is an art performance of one of the most ancient epic, Ramayana, originally written by Valmiki. The performance mostly includes various elements like dance (traditional Javanese dance), music, song, lyrics, costumes, lighting, stage etc. to make the performance interesting and understandable for the audience. The performance is favored by both domestic and foreign tourists. Ramayana ballet is performed at various places like the Prambanan Hindu temple, Purawisata and Hyatt hotel.

Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata

Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata is one of the most magnificent performances in Indonesia. The ballet has been performed every night since the year 1976 regardless of the weather and crowd. It has also won the Indonesian Record Museum (MURI) for its commitment and consistency.

Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata, Yogyakarta Source: Wikimedia Commons
Ramayana Ballet at Purawisata, Yogyakarta
Source: Wikimedia Commons

At Purawisata, the Ramayana ballet is divided into different acts. The whole play is presented only through body movements, without any dialogues. The melodious Javanese songs are played in the background. When the Ravana and Lord Hanuman appear the music becomes livelier. The performance becomes even more compelling when the war begins. When the ballet ends, viewers can go to the stage and click pictures with their favorite actors.

Also Read: Religion through performance: the Indonesian Ram Lila

The most amazing part of this performance is Gazebo dinner. Before the beginning of the performance, guests will have dinner at the Gazebo Garden Restaurant. It is the only restaurant that includes this amazing Ramayana Ballet in their dinner package. The visitors can enjoy luscious Indonesian meals with soft ‘Gamelan’ music making it convenient for the guests with a pleasing buffet and barbeque. The restaurant also has a classic Sultan palace architecture and has a lovely ambience.

Wayang Orang

Wayang Orang is the name of the group who has performed the Ramayana ballet at Purawisata consistently from the past 39 years. Before the Ramayana at Purawisata, there used to be another group who performed the Ramayana ballet at Sompilan House. But after that group broke up, Wayang Orang also collapsed. After that, the Wayang Orang group came to Purawisata which was earlier known as THR. The group started performing there in order to save the Sompilans. Pardiman, Founder of the Ramayana Purawisata says, ‘Since we merge, the members of the Wayang Orang survive’.

Watch this video: STORY BEHIND THE STAGE – Ramayana Ballet Purawisata, Yogyakarta, Indonesia

In 1998, there were travel warnings in Indonesia (suspecting terrorist attacks), which drove the tourists away and the group faced a downfall. There are 63 members in the whole group who come and go. The group consists of the fourth generation and includes small children too. Tukiran, Director of Stage says, “I got a lot of experience from the Wayang Orang, so I can understand a person’s character and what role could be played. As Ravana, Rama or other…” Not just the performance, the group also takes care of about 30 costumes. The costumes are washed, basked and stored separating each character. The dancer of this group are very dedicated towards their work and don’t mind what they are being paid to do it. They love this art and perform it regularly even though they have taken up other jobs.

Shubhi Mangla is an intern at Newsgram and a student of Journalism and Mass Communication in New Delhi. Twitter@ shubhi_mangla