A summary of the Ramayana ballet as I perceive it, watching in between helping with costume changes

Once upon a time, there was a princess named Sita and she had to get married. To find a suitable husband, her father held a contest: whoever could lift Shiva’s bow would be the winner. While lots of girls could apparently lift it and carry it around, none of the guys were able to until–what’s this?!–why, it’s Rama and Lakshmana!

Rama and Lakshmana appear on the scene, dressed in gold and wearing matching headdresses. Rama manages to lift the bow! People freak out a little bit, but Rama’s cool and he gets to marry Sita.

The happy couple plus Lakshmana retire to the forest and chill there for a while. Then along comes a golden deer! It’s really pretty and Sita wants it, so Rama goes off to get it. Lakshmana and Sita hang out for a while, but she eventually gets nervous and convinces Lakshmana to go make sure Rama is okay. Reluctantly, he agrees, draws a circle on the ground to protect Sita, and heads out.

Sita chills in her circle while, unbeknownst to her, a demon named Ravana attempts to break in. He doesn’t succeed, because Lakshmana is really good at what he does. Ravana, though, hatches a cunning plan and turns himself into an old man. Sita takes pity on said old man, one thing leads to another, she steps out of the circle, and she winds up captured.

Not good, Sita.

She does, however, exhibit a stunning amount of foresight and tosses some jewelry on the ground so that the boys can follow her.

Rama, meanwhile, is still pursuing the deer. After a long chase, he shoots it!

It turns out that the deer is actually a buddy of Ravana’s who attempts to kill Rama! But Rama is cool and defeats the demon, at which point Lakshmana shows up.

Lakshmana is all apologetic for leaving Sita but manages to notice her jewelry trail. The boys set off a-questing.

Meanwhile, Sita is being taken back to Ravana’s kingdom. On the way they pass a giant bird. He’s all, “Whoa, what’s that dude doing with Rama’s wife?” He attempts to save her, taking advantage of the element of surprise, but eventually Ravana cuts off his wings!

Rama and Lakshmana arrive on the scene just in time to miss Sita, but the bird is still alive so they get some intel that way.

Next, I think, comes a part that I never watch with monkeys. Basically, there are two brother monkeys who look exactly the same who are fighting over a throne. Rama helps one of them win the fight and then has a bunch of monkeys on his side.

Hanuman, another monkey, who I think is unrelated to the aforementioned monkey shenanigans, also shows up at this point. He goes right over to Ravana’s kingdom where Sita is pining with a bunch of her handmaidens, including Trijata, my favorite character. (Who is apparently an ogre but looks pretty in this version.)

Trijata is all, “What’s up with this random white monkey?” and tries to chase him away, but Sita says she wants to talk to him, so Trijata relents.

Sita gives Hanuman some jewelry to give Rama but refuses to go back with him. She wants to do this the right way, meaning she wants Rama to come save her. She’s also not really comfortable with the idea of letting Hanuman carry her back, since he isn’t her husband. (More on that later.)

Hanuman says okay, even though what he’s probably thinking is, Crazy Sita, you’re going to make this go on for another act. He then leaves/is shooed away by Trijata.

Hanuman, however, is not very good at sneaking out of Ravana’s palace. He gets caught! Ravana and company decide to burn Hanuman!

But Hanuman is cooler than that. He jumps over the fire, takes control of the fire, and starts burning down the city instead. Good times.

Meanwhile, Rama and Lakshmana are still making their slow way to rescue Sita. Along the way, they battle various bad guys and Rama changes his headgear to show that he’s defeated a king.

Finally, they make it to Sita and have a final battle in which the random monkeys also participate.

Ravana is defeated!

Hanuman escorts Sita out!

The happy couple is reunited!

Except then Rama has a change of heart and says, “Whoa, get away from me, girl, you’re not pure anymore!”

Sita, understandably, is a bit taken aback, since she wouldn’t even let Hanuman touch her when he showed up earlier. She decides the only solution is to have a pyre built and burn herself. That’ll show them.

Trijata is freaked out by this idea, but everyone else seems to think that Sita’s reasoning is solid, so they go along with the burning thing.

Luckily, Sita is indeed pure, so she just looks placid in the flames and the fire does nothing to her. At which point Rama accepts her, for real this time, and the happy couple is (once again) reunited.

6 thoughts on “A summary of the Ramayana ballet as I perceive it, watching in between helping with costume changes

  1. Wow! was this one of those all night dances that Colin went to? I’m sure the costumes were pretty amazing. Were you backstage or in the audience? No Christmas list yet?

    • This isn’t an all-night thing because it’s for tourists who couldn’t take it. I usually wander back and forth between backstage and the audience, which is why I always miss the scene with the monkeys.

      Emailing you now. :)

  2. ‘But Hanuman is cooler than that. He jumps over the fire, takes control of the fire, and starts burning down the city instead. Good times.’

    Favorite.line.ever. Hanuman is a total badass and probably my favorite character out of the Ramayana. And I’m incredibly jealous that you get to watch this, I keep hoping to find Ramayana plays but so far no such luck.

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