Categories
Tourism Malaysia

MAGIC OF SHADOW AND LIGHT

One of the age-old performances that is still being practiced today but becoming increasingly rare is the Wayang Kulit. Imagine a show where music, light, shadow and masterful storytelling come alive under one roof, transporting you back to ancient times, and leaving you, the audience, breathless and delighted in the fact that you may have just witnessed a centuries-old living heritage unfold right before your eyes.

This specialty theatre, a must-watch whenever you are in Malaysia, can be found in Kedah and Kelantan. The Wayang Kulit is a live theatre performance orchestrated by the main puppeteer, Tok Dalang, who controls and breathes life into various puppets as he narrates epic dramas to the accompaniment of live music.

The Wayang Kulit traditionally begins with a loud shrill call made by the instruments – traditionally, this was to call the village people from around to gather for a night of storytelling. The Wayang Kulit stage is a basic setup consisting of an area for the spectators who usually sit on the ground. Another area, separated by a linen cloth which is essentially the screen, is where all the puppets, musicians and Tok Dalang are seated. Normally, this space is small and dark, with everyone cramped together with bulky instruments, but here is where all the action takes place.

Here’s a secret: watching the behind-the-scenes show as the theatre progresses is just as great as being an audience! You will see exactly how everything – the music, the storytelling, the light, the puppets, the narration – falls into place under the genius orchestration of one Tok Dalang. Indeed, it is quite the performance to see the Tok Dalang and the musicians create a perfect symphony of music and storytelling.

To create the shadow play, light from an electrical or oil lamp is projected towards the puppets thus casting shadows on a fabric screen separating the performers and the audience. The Tok Dalang sits behind this screen, ready to conduct the show. It is certainly not an easy task to be a Tok Dalang because he has to manipulate more than 10 puppets during a typical performance that can last several few hours, remember all their characters – some are evil, some are heroic, etc., modulate his voice to suit the characters, and also conduct the orchestra at the same time with 10 to 30 musicians.

The language in Wayang Kulit performances can somehow confuse the audience due to the dialect used, for example the northern Kedahan and the eastern Kelantanese dialect. But rest assure, it is not really hard for you to understand the main storyline guided by the Tok Dalang’s voice tones and simply enjoy the music.

Puppets used in Wayang Kulit originally are made out of water buffalo hide and goat hide, and mounted on bamboo sticks. However, the best puppets are typically made from young female buffalo parchment, cured for up to ten years. Each puppet, a stylized exaggeration of the human shape, is given a distinctive appearance and not unlike its string puppet cousins, has jointed ‘arms’.

Historically, the stories narrated in Wayang Kulit are strongly influenced by Hindu and Javanese cultures. Maharaja Wana (Rawana), Sri Rama (Rama), Siti Dewa (Sita), the Laksamana, and the court clowns, Pak Dogol and Wak Long are some of the main characters in most performances. Hindu Epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata were performed through Wayang Kulit as a means to spread the religion. The Mahabharata is an epic narrative of the Kuruksetra War and the fates of the Kaurava and the Pandava princes, while Ramayana is an ancient Indian poem which narrates the struggle of the divine Prince Rama to rescue his wife Sita from the Demon King Rawana.

These days, the modern Wayang Kulit emphasizes on stories that are relevant to current times, national or global issues, as well as comedy and entertainment. In fact, an adaptation of Star Wars called “Peperangan Bintang” with puppets made in the likeness of the original characters such as Sangkala Vedah (Darth Vader), Puteri Leia (Princess Leia) and Si P Long (C-3PO) has recently emerged as a variation of Wayang Kulit. These newer versions certainly appeal to a younger audience and those living in the cities and is a great way to reach out to them about a dying art.

There are four main versions of Wayang Kulit in Malaysia: Wayang Kulit Siam (Kelantan), Wayang Kulit Gedek (Kedah), Wayang Kulit Jawa (Selangor and Johor), and Wayang Kulit Melayu (Terengganu). Nowadays, only the first two Wayang Kulit are still being performed. If you are looking forward to watch the Wayang Kulit Gedek, there are various Wayang Kulit associations in Kedah and one of the notable one is Wayang Kulit Sri Asun. Meanwhile for the Wayang Kulit Siam in Kelantan, Wayang Pak Dain is recognized as the authentic Wayang Kulit performer there.

WHERE TO WATCH:

Gelanggang Seni (Culture Centre)
Jalan Mahmood, Bandar Kota Bharu,
15200 Kota Bharu, Kelantan
Tel: +609 748 5534 / 3543

Opening Hours:
Saturday – 3.30pm-5.30pm
Monday Wednesday – (3.30 pm – 5.30 pm), (9.00 pm -11.00 pm)

Wayang Pak Dain
Simpang 3 Morak,
Kampung Paloh, Wakaf Bharu,
16040 Tumpat Kelantan
Phone : +60179778929
Email : [email protected]

Article source: http://blog.tourism.gov.my/feed/

Categories
Cuisine in Melaka

WANGKANG FESTIVAL 2012

Email    Print 02 February 2012 | last updated at 12:51am
Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell

By KELLY KOH LING MIN
MALACCA
[email protected] | 0 comments

Rare procession to rid Malacca of misfortune

A Wangkang organising committee member preparing the wooden boat that will be paraded around the streets of Malacca on Feb 6 to collect evil spirits and negative elements. Pic by Mohd Khairul Helmy
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  IT is not an annual event like  Chinese New Year or  Chap Goh Mei, but the Wangkang Festival is nevertheless important in the Chinese  calendar, especially for the Hokkien community.

  Wangkang is a festival which is believed to have its beginnings 150 years ago and it comes around once in several decades. This is only the fifth time that it is held in Malacca in the form of a boat procession.

  The last three Wangkang festivals took place in 1919, 1933 and 2001, and there are no records on when the first was held in the country.

  The event is aimed at ridding evil spirits in the state and country. It may be a once in a lifetime experience  as it is only held when the medium at the temple gets the command from the heavens.

  The 2012 Wangkang organising committee chairman, Lai Poon Pen, 55, said instructions from the “Heaven God” stated that this year is an unfortunate year as Malacca would be struck by disasters.

  “It was last year when we got this important message, and I was chosen to  carry out the festival.”  

   It is also known as the King Barge Festival and it is a tradition of the Chinese Peranakan, whose ancestors migrated to Malacca from the Hokkien-speaking provinces of China during the colonial era.

   “The idea of having the Wangkang boat procession around  town is to collect evil spirits, wandering souls and other negative elements on the road, and send them away to bring in  health, peace and happiness  to the people of Malacca.

   “The festival starts with the rising of the koh teng, an oil lamp on a 12m bamboo pole,  to send a message to heaven  that an important event will be held soon.

   “As for the boat, we have different names for it each year. In 1919, it was called Lian An, meaning united peace while in 1933, the boat was named Ming An, which means people’s peace. It was Jia An in 2001, meaning Malacca peace, and this year, it is Chuan An which means total peace,” said Lai  at the Yong Chuan Tian Temple in Banda Hilir yesterday.

  He said  the 5.8m-long, 2.5m-wide and 2m-high boat was made of wood by five committee members.

  “The RM80,000 boat will be loaded with rice, water, wine, joss paper, herbs, pots, pans, stoves, and  supplies for the evil spirits  as we believe there should be an equilibrium between heaven, earth and hell.”

  Lai said the Tourism Ministry gave RM10,000 and the state government provided RM15,000 towards the cost of building the boat.

  The rest of the money was collected from the people.

  The Wangkang will be paraded in the streets here on Feb 6 —  the last day of  Chinese New Year which is also Chap Goh Mei —  before being  set ablaze in a bonfire.

Read more: Sending a boatload of evil spirits back to hell – General – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/local/general/sending-a-boatload-of-evil-spirits-back-to-hell-1.40726#ixzz1lDxA289x

Article source: http://tourism-melaka.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default