It is widely known that well into the 9th century, the Indian epic Ramayana had become popularised in much of Indochina and increasingly the
Over the centuries, the legend of Sri Rama and Sita Devi along with the supporting cast of Laksamana, Hanuman, Rahwana and a slew of other characters became an influential and dominant feature of traditional Malay culture and folklore in the form of the Hikayat Sri Rama. Indeed, the legendary epic of the Ramayana – as portrayed through our uniquely Malaysian Hikayat Sri Rama - became the major part for the growth and appeal of the art of wayang kulit. This epic – especially the segment on the abduction of Sita Devi by the demon Rahwana and her eventual rescue by her husband the noble Prince Sri Rama, his brother and most loyal compatriot, Prince Laksamana, and an army of monkeys led by the much revered Hanuman – has endured for several millennia.
In the process, many other off-shoots of this much grand and celebrated epic have made their way into the heart and soul of the wayang kulit tradition and into the hearts of millions of Malaysians. Performed throughout the
As the legend has it, Sita Devi is abducted by the demon Rahwana while she, her husband, Sri Rama, and Luksamana were in exile in the forest from their
As legendary epic battles between good and evil go, Sri Rama’s forces prevail. He and his entourage eventually return to Ayodhya triumphant and his long awaiting subjects in the kingdom revel in celebration. Darkness is defeated – let the world rejoice. Let there be Diwali – a celebration of lights – to signify the triumph of goodness.
May the spirit of the Hikayat Sri Rama – a truly historic tradition of
The fact of the matter is, the Hikayat Sri Rama is but one example and manifestation of the true meaning of
And on this occasion, as we celebrate Diwali – and one example of such fusion of our cultures - let us not forget those who remain political prisoners and prisoners of conscience. May this season of light bring them peace and shakti.
May the spirit of Hikayat Sri Rama bring you and yours peace. Hari Om. [Oops! I almost forgot - Happy Diwali, Auntie Maalini.]