Spirit of Women & The Womens’ Association of North Ubud present a traditional dance called the Ramayana Ballet, telling the timeless story of Rama and Sita. It is performed at the Lotus Pond, behind the Cafe Lotus on the Ubud’s main street. The Ramayana, of course, is an ancient Indian Sanskrit epic. Consisting of 24,000 verses in seven books, it tells the story of Rama (an avatar of the Hindu preserver-God Vishnu), whose wife Sita is abducted by a demon king. Thematically, the Ramayana depicts the duties of relationships, portraying ideal characters, like the ideal king, ideal servant, ideal brother, ideal wife and ideal father.
A newer version of this old story, the 9th century Javanese Kakawin Ramayana, is the reference of Ramayana in Bali, where it has become the source of moral and spiritual guidance as well as aesthetic expression and entertainment. Here’s an abbreviation of the “short” story as depicted in this “ballet” and explained in “English” in a brochure for guests: Sita, her husband Rama, her father, and her brother Laksamana are making a journey and enter the jungle of Dandaka. Their entry to the jungle has been detected by the demonic minister Maricha.
King Rahwana wants to kidnap the beautiful princess Sita, so his minister sets a plot to do the deed by transforming himself into a deer to attract Sita.
However, Rama detects that the deer is not what it seems and shoots it, causing it to change back into Maricha, who runs screaming for help.
Rama pursues him and Laksamana joins the pursuit, but before leaving hedraws a magic circle around Sita to protect her.
Rahwana has been watching and disguises himself as an old priest and begs for a drink of much-needed water. As soon as Sita brings the water, Rahwana snatches her out of her protective ring and takes her away.
On the way back to Rahwana’s palace the gigantic bird Jatayu, a friend of Rama’s father, attempts a rescue, but in a short fight, Jatayu is defeated. Before the giant bird’s death, Rama and Laksamana find him and discover Sita has been kidnapped!
Rama prays for help and the white monkey warrior Hanoman appears with his troops. Rama asks him to save Sita and gives his ring to Hanoman to identify himself to Sita.
At the palace, Rahwana’s niece Trijata and her sympathetic attendants try to comfort Sita until King Rahwana enters and tries to force Sita to marry him. His niece objects and convinces the king to wait until the next day. Hanoman arrives and storms into the palace. He meets Sita and Trijata and gives the ring to Sita and she, in return, gives Hanoman a golden flower in thanks. As they leave the palace, Hanoman destroys the garden of King Rahwana.
The king’s demonic soldiers find Sita and Hanoman and a fight ensues, but Hanoman’s troops arrive in the nick of time and defeat Rahwana’s soldiers.