A Dramatic Sunset

I have watched many versions of the epic story of Rama and Sita base on the Hindu text.

The story, features, props, costumes and interpretation of this tale varies as you make your way around South East Asia.

But I’ve got to say that the Balinese are unparalleled when it comes to injecting that extra special dramatic effect by utilising nature’s very own colour palette as a backdrop for their presentation.

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Sunset from the Uluwatu temple, Bali

 The Kecak dance performance that is base on the sensational chapter where Sita is kidnapped by the antagonist – the evil King Ravana – is performed at the Uluwatu Temple (Pura Luhur Uluwatu) at the southern-western tip of Bali’s Bukit Peninsular overlooking the Indian Ocean.

Waves slam into the cliffs and rocks below the Uluwatu Temple

The Kecak dance in Uluwatu is performed at sunset, allowing the varying colours of the sky and sea during this time to provide a dramatic backdrop for the entire show.

The setting sun lends the Indian Ocean a silvery glow
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View of the Uluwatu Temple that faces the Indian Ocean

Unlike other dance performances, Kecak depends on the voices of more than a 100 men who enter the amphitheater with their hands raised and swaying, while chanting “cak, cak, cak…” in unison to create a melody before surrounding a fire that is lit by a priest who prays before the flames before and during the performance.

A priest prays and performs some rituals before the performance
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A ritualistic flame is lit by a priest before the performance


Men enter the amphitheater at sunset chanting “cak, cak, cak….” – an acapella sort of performance to set the mood for the show.


The men form a circle around the ritualistic fire
A priest prays and sprinkles some water on the men following which they fall into some form of trance
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The main characters of the Kecak performance heir to the Kingdom of Ayodya Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Laksamana enter the circle. This scene signifies their entry into the Dadanka forest after being banished from Ayodya by King Dasarata who is manipulated by Rama’s stepmother.


Rama and Sita before she spots the golden deer which she asks Rama to capture for her. The golden deer is the magical form taken by Marica, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Alengka (Langka) ruled by the evil King Rhawana. Rhawana who has set his sights on Sita, sends Marica to isolate her from Rama and his brother so that he can abduct her. 
Sita sends Laksamana to look for Rama when they hear what sounds like a cry for help from Rama. Laksamana reluctantly leaves Sita to look for his brother, but draws an enchanted circle on the ground  around Sita and tells her not to step out of it under any circumstances. 
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Rhawana disguises himself as a poor priest seeking alms and tricks Sita into stepping out of the magic circle.
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Rhawana Kidnaps Sita and takes her back to his kingdom
Rhawana tries to seduce Sita unsuccessfully
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Monkey God Hanuman makes a dramatic appearance atop the stone structure that marks the entrance to the amphitheater. He brings with him Rama’s ring which he passes to Sita in exchange for her hairpin to show each other that they are safe.
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Hanuman is captured by Rhawana’s servants
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A ring of fire that looks like a funeral pyre and ritual is set up for Hanuman who manages to make a dramatic escape (video below)


The scene above is also a warning from Hanuman to Rhawana and his men of Rama’s impending attack on Alengka.

After an epic battle between good and evil, Sita is rescued and reunited with Rama.


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