Kecak Dance at Uluwatu Luhur Temple Bali

The Kecak Dance tells the Indian story of Ramayana. Narrated in a country named Mantili, there was a beautiful princess named Shinta. She is a daughter of Prabu Janaka, the king of Mantili. One day the King held a contest to find the prince for his beloved daughter Shinta, and finally the competition had won by Crown Prince of Ayodya Kingdom, Rama, whose finally marrying Shinta. But in the story there was a king of Alengkapura, Rahwana, whose also in love with Shinta.

Dasaratha, the King of Kosala with Ayodya as the center of the kingdom, wanted to crown Rama as King of Kosala because Rama is the eldest son of Dasaratha as well as most expected. But his actions are opposed by the young consort, namely Kaikeyi. For the claim of Kaikeyi, Dasaratha finally exiled and throw Rama into the woods. But then he regrets that decision and became hated Kaikeyi. Meanwhile in the journey, Rama that accompanied by his beautiful wife Shinta and his brother Laskmana, was passing through a wild forest called Dandaka, Rahwana, spies the three of them, especially Shinta. Rahwana wanted to kidnapped Shinta and brought her to his palace to made her become his wife. With his trick, Rahwana changed one of his slave named Marica into a golden deer. After seen the beauty of golden deer, Shinta was asked Rama to caught it. Because the demand of his beloved wife, Rama then tried to chase the deer and left Shinta and Laksmana to wait.

Rama and Shinta.
Shinta
Rama chase the Golden Deer.

After a long enough time of hunt, Shinta started to worry about Rama, then she asked Laksmana to search Rama. Before left Shinta alone, Laksmana was made a protection in order to protect and make sure the safety of Shinta by created a magical circle and asked Shinta to keep stay in the circle during his search for Rama. After Laksmana left Sihnta alone, Rahwana began tried to kidnap Shinta, but his effort failed because the magical circle. Rahwana then started looking for another strategy by changing himself into an old Bhagawan who pretend thirsty and asked Shinta to bring him water. Because Shinta was pity to see the Bhagawan, she became careless and gave him water. At that instant, Rahwana without wanted to miss an opportunity, seized his hand and pulled Shinta out of the circle. Shinta scream for a help and heard by a big bird named Jatayu whose recognized her as the daughter of Prabu Janaka who is its best friend. But Jatayu was defeated by Rahwana in the battle. Next by Rahwana, Shinta was brought to his palace in Alengkapura.

Rahwana
Shinta avoiding Rahwana and get help by Jatayu.

Meanwhile, Rama finally defeated Marica after he shot down the golden deer with his arrow and the golden deer turned back into his genuine form. At the same time, Laksmana managed to find Rama and then they both went back into the place where Shinta was left alone. After that, they realize Shinta was gone. Furthermore, they both try to find Shinta and met Jatayu who was severely injured. From the description of Jatayu they know that is Rahwana who was kidnapped Shinta. They both decided to take a trip to the palace of Rahwana. In the middle of the journey, they met a white monkey named Hanuman who was looking for the knights to beat Subali. Subali is a brother of Sugriwa, Hanuman’s uncle, whose his wife, Princess Tara took away by his own elder brother, Subali. Rama was willing help Hanuman to defeat Subali and finally succeded with the return of the goddess Tara to Sugriwa. After that, Rama told Sugriwa that he and Laksmana will continuing their journey to find and safe Shinta from Rahwana in Alengkapura. Feeling indebted to Rama, then Sugriwa offer an assistance in finding Shinta by sending Hanuman to Alengkapura and find out the power of Rahwana’s army.

Rahwana fight the Rahwana’s army, pretend to defeat, and finally get burn.

Argasoka is a park in Alengkapura where Shinta spend her days during the kidnapped and waiting her husband. In Argasoka Shinta was accompanied Trijata, the nephew of Rahwana, whose also trying to persuade Shinta to be willing to be the wife of Rahwana. Because Ravana that had several times asked for and forced Shinta to be his wife was rejected, to the point that his patience is exhausted, Rahwana wanted to kill Shinta but can be prevented by Trijata. In the sadness, Shinta was found by Hanuman that intorduce himself and told Shinta that he was send by Rama to find her. Then Hanuman destroying Argasoka in order to find out the power of Alengkapura’s army. He was caught by Indrajid, the son of Rahwana while doing that. Rahwana then told Indrajid to burnt Hanuman alive. Instead of burnt alive, Hanuman had get away from the fire and managed to escape. After his return from Alengkapura, Hanuman told all the events and conditions of Alengkapura to Rama. After the report, Rama that also followed by Hanuman’s army then attacked Alengkapura.

Hanuman escaped and destroyed Alengkapura.

The battle was happened in Alengkapura. First, Alengkapura’s army that led by Indrajid defeated after the death of Indrajid. After that, the Alengkapura’s army that led by Kumbhakarna, Rahwana’s brother, was also defeated after the death of Kumbhakarna. With the death of his brother, Rahwana finally facing Rama himself. In the end, Rahwana was dead by the arrow of Rama.

Kecak Dance is perform at 6 pm everyday at Uluwatu Luhur Temple in Bali. The Uluwatu Luhur Temple itself is a Bali’s most spectacular Hindunese Temples, located high on a cliff top at the edge of a plateau 250 feet above the waves of the Indian Ocean and lies at the southern tip of Bali in Badung Regency. Dedicated to the spirits of the sea, this famous temple is an architectural wonder in black coral rock, beautifully designed with spectacular views.

Kecak choir.

What makes the Kecak such a fascinating dance to watch and different from other Bali’s dance is because this dance is not accompanied by traditional musical instruments (gamelan) or anything, but by a choir of several men to providing the music for the story in a series of constant vocal chants that change with the mood of the actors. They don’t sit still, either, they wave their arms to simulate fire, and reposition themselves around the stage to represent wind and fire, prison cells, and unseen hand of protection from the gods. The dance is played in five acts and lasts roughly 45 minutes.

Attending a Kecak recital is a must for any visitor in Bali. It is a wondrous experience, and a window into the musical and artistic culture that make the Balinese a special people.

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Copyright © 2009 Novri Wahyu Perdana. All rights reserved.
All images were taken by using Canon EOS 50D, Canon EF 70-300mm F/4-5.6 IS USM, and Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS.

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