Bhopal(Madhya Pradesh): For the Thais, Ramayana is just a literary work, which is staged in a dramatic adaptation for entertainment purposes and it doesn’t end with killing of Ravana, Powinee Boonser, a professor in the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Thammasat University, Thailand.
Powinee, along with another female professor of the University and four students, were in the city to stage a dance drama ‘The Advances of Samnakkha’ at the ongoing International Ramleela Festival at Ravindra Bhavan on Wednesday.
Powinee told the Free Press that the tale of the life and works of Rama is called ‘Ramakien’ (which means Glory of Rama) in Thailand. It is an ancient text, based on the Buddhist Dasaratha Jataka.
“You may call it the Thai version of the Ramayana,” said Powinee, adding that “the basic theme of Ramakien is the same as that of Ramayana though there are some vital differences, too,” explained Powinee.
She said that unlike the Ramayana, in which Ravana is slain by Rama, in Ramakien the story has a happy ending. “It is more of a love story of Rama and Sita,” she said.
The names of the characters are also different. Thus, Ravana is called Thoskan, Ram is Pha Ram, Laxmana is Pha La and Sita is Seeda.
Ramakien is about 500-year-old and survives from the ancient times when the rulers of Thailand were influenced by Hinduism. Now, Thailand is a Buddhist country, with Hindus forming a tiny 0.1% of the total population.
Another member of the troupe, Panreerata, who enacts the role of Rama in the dance drama, has done her PhD on the “Creative role of Rama in Ramayana” and teaches at the Thammasat University.
She said that she has read the Ramayana and loves Indian classical dances including Bharatanatyam, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Kathakali. She is also an admirer of classical Hindustani singer Gangubai Hangal.
Both the lady professors are accomplished performers of Khon, a classical dance drama genre of Thailand.