Facts on the Ramayana Ballet

by Toby Welch
The Ramayana Ballet is performed in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.

The Ramayana Ballet is performed in Jogjakarta, Indonesia.

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The Ramayana Ballet is an art performance that celebrates a legendary poem and aspects of Javanese culture. (Java is an island in Indonesia.) The dancing drama production is performed on an open stage in the Javanese language and is accompanied by gamelan music, a traditional genre performed by an Indonesian musical ensemble. The ballet is held in one region of Indonesia.

Premise of the Story

Often compared to the story of "Romeo and Juliet" but with a happy ending, the Ramayana Ballet performance is told through drama, music and dance. The Ramayana story is based on a famous Indonesian poetic work written by Walmiki. The work is similar to one engraved on a Prambanan temple as well as a poem orally passed down to younger generations in India. As dancers glide around the stage, the storyteller tells the story through Javanese songs and language.

First Three Scenes

The Ramayana Ballet story is told in ten scenes. In the first scene King Prabu Janaka holds a competition to decide who is the right man to marry his daughter, Dewi Shinta. Raden Rama Wijaya, the prince of Ayodya, wins the competition. But King Prabu Rahwana wants to marry Shinta as he believes she is the reincarnation of Dewi Widowati, his love. In the second scene Rahwana hosts a gathering, and his younger brother, Sarpakenaka, races in screaming about being defeated by a knight in the forest. In the third scene the main characters head to the forest, where Rahwana kidnaps Shinta after posing as a beggar.

Scenes Four through Six

In the middle three scenes Shinta's betrothed, Rama, shoots a deer, who turns out to be one of Rahwana's followers, Marcia. Marcia had converted himself into the creature's form to attract Shinta. Rama's brother, Leksmana, arrives on the scene and tells Rama that Shinta is missing. As Shinta is still being held by Rahwana, Rama and Leksmana set out to find her and meet a cast of interesting characters: Jatayu, a bird who tried to save Shinta from Rahwana, a monkey named Hanuman, Subali and Sugriwa.

Last Four Scenes

At the start of scene seven, Rahwana's niece, Trijata, is comforting a distraught Shinta. Rahwana shows up and asks Shinta's to be his wife. She refuses. Rahwana becomes angry, and Trijata keeps him from killing Shinta. Hanuman appears and tries to free Shinta. Indrajid, Rahwana's son, thwarts Hanuman's plan. Hanuman reports Shinta's whereabouts to Rama, who takes his troops and attacks Alengka, the place where she is being held. Rahwana is killed by Rama's arrow, and Shinta and Rama are reunited. Shinta sets herself on fire to prove she is still pure, but the fire does not harm her body. With proof that Shinta is still pure, Rama accepts her for his wife.

Details about the Ramayana Ballet

You will find the Ramayana Ballet performed in two places in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. One is in Purawisata on Jalan Brigjen Katamso. In this location you are served dinner as you watch the ballet. The other place to see the ballet is at the Prambanan temple in Central Java. The production is held outside unless it rains; in that case the event is brought inside to the temple's indoor theater. Tickets for the Ramayana Ballet in Prambanan range from 50.000 to 150.000 Indian rupees, which is between U.S. $1.10 and $3.35.


  • "Indonesia"; Ryan Ver Berkmoes; 2009
  • "Language and Travel Guide to Indonesia"; Gary Chandler; 2009

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images