Renowned Indonesian Puppeteer Performed in India



Sujiwo Tedjo, a renowned Indonesian “dalang” (shadow puppeteer), enchanted the audience with his rendition of Hindu Epic Ramayana through a performance titled “The Fall of Kumbhakarna”. Tedjo performed twice; on November 26th at Auditorium School of Social Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University and on November 29th at Azad Bhawan Auditorium, Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The wayang (Indonesian traditional shadow puppet) performance was accompanied by gamelan music performed by Indonesian ladies from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia. The performance received an overwhelmingly positive response from more than 400 audiences, which include Indian students and scholars as well as general audience.

In the birth land of Ramayana, Sujiwo Tejo brings the audience to see the epic from Kumbhakarna’s point of view. In his story, Kumbhakarna is depicted trying to avoid conflict between Ram and Ravana, which was stemmed from the love triangle between Ram, Sita, and Ravana. This fresh rendition captured the audience’s interest, as Ramayana usually focuses on the relationship between Ram and Sita.

In his welcome remarks, The Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia to India, H.E. Mr. Rizali Wilmar Indrakesuma emphasized on Ramayana being shared culture of Indonesia and India, and that the wayang performance would be the bridge that helps connecting people from the two countries. He also hoped that the audience enjoy the performance and for both countries to continue preserving the ancient epic of Ramayana.

The wayang performance was the first of its kind, and was presented as collaboration between the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in New Delhi with Indian Council for Cultural Relations and Centre for Chinese and Southeast Asian Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.  It is a public diplomacy initiative by the Embassy to introduce Indonesian culture to Indian public as well as international audience.

After the performance at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Sujiwo Tedjo and JNU professors and scholars held an interactive discussion on the puppeteer’s own perspective of Ramayana, the unique features of wayang and gamelan performance, and the impact of wayang performance towards the bilateral relations between Indonesia and India.