Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Ramayana, Wayang Kulit & Southern Thai Magic

The above picture potraits begining scene of Wayang Kulit puppet show dipicting Dewa Panah (God of Arrows) on both sides, in the centre is Maharishi (Ruesi) under the Kayon/Gunung/Pohon Beringin (Mountain/Wish fulfilling tree) amongst many names.

The core of Wayang Siam or Wayang Melayu follows the story line of Ramayana, or locally known as "Hikayat Sri Rama". The epic Ramayana depicts the struggle of good and evil to seek control over Kayon. Kayon is said to be representing our universe. The one on the right of Kayon, Dewa Panah with peaceful face representing good; while the opposite site with fierce face representing the bad aspects. Under the tree is the wise man the great ruesi.

In the study of Thai magic, and to facilitate my research, I have divided it into three systems:

  1. The North
  2. The Middle
  3. The South
Southern Thailand as a matter of convenience, I have included the area of: Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala and Songkhla. Neighbouring states of Malaysia such as Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan.

The main character in Ramayana worshipped by Thai Magic is Hanuman, the faithful servant of Rama. Hanuman is particularly powerful, he is the son of the God of wind, Sang Hayang Baju, and it is not surprising strong wind accompanied by its presence. Other characters are Dewa Panah, Ruesi, naga, garuda etc.

Basically Wayang Kulit is a religious activity. In fact, Wayang Kulit is a show given primarily to placate the spirits, only secondary for the entertainment of human beings. It is somehow similiar to the Chinese opera offered to hungry ghosts.

Prior to the Wayang Kulit show, sirih leaves, tobacco, alcohol (presented in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos), perfumes, money in the form of "hell money" used by the Chinese, rice, chicken (while in Thailand a pig head is used as well). Then the Dalang invokes the spirits of the four points of compass, then the Trimurti: Brahman, Vishnu, Siva and then concludes with the berkat (blessing) of Shahada. And finally the show performance for spirits and human beings alike.

In Kelantan Thai magical practices, Wayang Kulit puppets are thought to have magical powers and believed to be keramat, they are representation of half-men half-gods and possess power that can be serviceable on certain occassions. Such as: curing body of spiritual and mental illness.

The use of spear or sword to represents the Dewa Panah for the control and protection of spirits. The old Kelantan folks are said to keep a piece of spear in their house in case of emergency. The basic concept of Southern Thai Magic is the believe of "balance of power" as dipicted by two Dewa Panah. So if you do practise the Kelantan Thai magic, you can expect two servitor spirits: the good and the bad. In case if one only sees the bad spirit, that means his/her heart is not pure enough. The heart of this system is of course the Buddha, Ruesi and the 21 yantras as our Kayon or "wish fulfilling tree". In order to achieve enlightnment, so you must do merit and meditate. The Buddha teaching exceeds all magic.

Finally, let me show you an example of an antique lembing Kelantan (Kelantanese spear):

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