The Ministry of Culture will organize an International Ramayana Festival at the National Theater in Bangkok between December 5 and 9, as part of the celebrations of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s 7th cycle, or 84th, birthday anniversary this year.
According to the Chairman of the Organising Committee M.R. Chakrarot Chitrabongs, seven countries, namely Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Singapore have responded to the invitation to join this festival, which will be open to the public free of charge.
M.R. Chakrarot stated that the International Ramayana Festival would be staged in accordance with the ancient Thai belief that the reigning king is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in the personification of King Rama, as recounted in the Indian epic Ramayana (The Story of Rama). It is most appropriate therefore to stage a grand performance of the Thai version of the epic, Ramakirti (In Honor of Rama), as part of the celebrations.
Furthermore, he said, since the same story has spread far and wide, and has become well-known throughout Southeast Asia, Thailand has invited other countries that have maintained the cultural tradition of performing the Ramayana to participate in the significant celebrations in Bangkok. At 4:00 p.m. on December 5, there will be an official opening ceremony. The performance begins with a musical tribute by all participating countries as an overture. After that, each country will in turn, and in alphabetical order by country name, present a specially prepared song and dance of benediction to His Majesty the King.
At 5:00 p.m. on December 6, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, and Thailand are scheduled to stage individual country performances. The individual country performances by Singapore, Lao PDR, Indonesia, and Cambodia will be staged at the same time on December 7.
The Joint Ramayana performance by all countries in nine episodes will take place at 8:00 p.m. on December 9, when all participating countries take turns performing the Ramayana from the beginning to the end, each in its own performing arts style. At 1:00 p.m. on the same day, there will be a dress rehearsal. Both performances will be open to the public, free of charge. Members of the public may submit requests for individual or group invitations, stating the performance they wish to attend.
The Thai government has set the period from January to December 2011 for the celebrations of His Majesty the King’s seventh cycle birthday anniversary. The public, private, and civic sectors are joining hands in offering felicitations to His Majesty and organizing celebrative performances, scheduled for December 3-9, to commemorate this auspicious occasion.