Scene from the Ramakien depicted on a mural at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) (photo credit: Jpatokal, wikimedia.org)

Fun Facts About The Thai Ramakien

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If you are a Thailand lover, you certainly know the Thai Ramakien which is the National Epic of Thailand. In short, the Ramakien is about Rama who spends 14 years in exile after being banished by his stepmother. There he lives with his consort Sita and his brother Lakshman. When Sita is abducted by the Demon King Ravana (Tosakanth) to Lanka, Rama and his brother rescue her with the help of the monkey warriors. Well, there are also some entertaining facts about the ‘Story of Rama’ which I like to bring to you here 🙂

Thai Ramakien Trivia

  • Did you know that the Ramayana was written by the Hindu sage Valmiki and that it implies that the epic possesses magic properties? Merely reading one verse of the Ramayana is supposed to guarantee a son to everyone previously lacking a male heir and it also implies that poor readers of the epic will become rich and that errant readers are purified.
Scene from the Ramakien depicted on a mural at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)
Scene from the Thai Ramakien depicted on a mural at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)
  •  In the Rama Jataka, the Buddha is quoted as claiming he had been Rama in a previous life. The Rama Jataka is popular in Laos and some northeastern parts of Thailand where it is recited during ceremonies for the dead and crematations.
Scene from the Ramakien depicted on a mural at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) (photo credit: Jpatokal, wikimedia.org)
Scene from the Ramakien depicted on a mural at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) (photo credit: Jpatokal, wikimedia.org)
  • In the oldest version of Rama’s story which is probably the Dasaratha Jataka, Sita is featured as Rama’s sister.
Sita in captivity in Lanka being_tempted by Ravana. Chromoli Wellcome Library London, wikimedia.org
Sita in captivity in Lanka being tempted by Ravana. Chromoli Wellcome Library London, wikimedia.org
  •  According to an ancient Thai belief, the Ramakien has magic properties. Thus, anyone who is able to read the Story of Rama over seven days and seven nights could command from the heavens three days and three nights of rainfall.
A scene from the Ramakien
A scene from the Ramakien, illustration at Wat Phra Kaew (photo: Sirinya Pakditawan)
  • The 16th century Chinese classic Hsi-yu-chi (Monkey) incorporated together with other material, Hanuman’s travels in pursuit of Sita. What is more, as early as 251 AD, a Jataka form of the Ramayana was rendered into Chinese.
Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana at the Hermitage of Bharadvaja. Page from a dispersed Ramayana_(Story of King Rama),ca._1780, wikimedia.org
Rama, Sita, and Lakshmana at the Hermitage of Bharadvaja. Page from a dispersed Ramayana (Story of King Rama),ca. 1780, wikimedia.org
  • The Reamker which is the Cambodian version of the Ramayana takes about 50 hours to recite.
An episode from the Cambodian Reamker, Phnom Phen, photo. Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, wikimedia.org
An episode from the Cambodian Reamker, Phnom Phen, photo: Jean-Pierre Dalbéra, wikimedia.org
  • The Ramakien can be called an esoteric allegory of man’s spiritual quest (Rama) for Nirvana (Sita). In this way, it is also a purification of physical and intellectual faculties in which Tosakanth (Ravana) and his brothers are coarse passions and imperfections while the monkey warriors stand for virtues.
Chin as Khon character Tosakanth (photo credit: pinterest.com)
Thai-French Singer Chin Chinawut as Khon (Ramayana) character Tosakanth (photo credit: pinterest.com)

Did you know about this trivia? I think the most entertaining fact is that the Thai Ramakien is supposed to possesss magic properties. Hence, maybe we should try to recite the Story of Rama and see what kind of magic we can work 😉

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference: Ramakien, The Thai Ramayana. Naga Books Bangkok, 1993)

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