Ramakian in Thailand – Ramakien – the Thai Version of Ramayana

Some of the important cultures in Southeast Asia are influenced by Hinduism which filtered through the region from around the first century AD onwards as a result of trade with South India. The epic of Ramayana has been one the greatest influences in the region. Almost all the countries in the Southeast Asia have a regional version of the Ramayan. In Thailand, the epic Ramayana is known as Ramakian or Ramakien.

Ramakian is the national epic of Thailand and the influence of Ramayana is deeply etched in the Thai culture and the Kings of Thailand take the title of Rama.

There are some major differences between Ramakian and the original Valmiki Ramayan.

The narrative and outline of Ramakian is similar to the original Ramayan. Ramakian is strongly influenced by the South Indian versions of the Ramayana especially the Kamba Ramayan. Influence of the Bengali and other Southeast Asia versions of Ramayan, especially of that in Indonesia, are seen in Ramakian.

Ravana, the demon king, who is known as Tosakanth in Thai Version of Ramayana is stripped of some evil characteristics and there are verses that makes people sympathize with Ravan.

The divinity associated with Lord Ram is missing in Ramakian and instead he is a Thai Prince.

Names of characters, way of life, food, dress, weapons etc are all based on Thai culture.

There are also some characters like Maiyarab and Sahatsadecha etc in Ramakien that are not part of the original Ramayana.

Like Ramayana, there are also numerous regional versions of Ramakian.

Names of characters, dress, food, and way of life are all based on Thai culture.

RamakienRamayana
Phra Ram Lord Ram
Nang SidaSita
Phra Lak Lakshman
HanumanHanuman
ThotsakanRavan
ThotsarotDasharath
Phra PhrotBharata
Phra SatrutShatrughna
SukreepaSugriva
GumpakanKumbhakarna
AyutayaAyodhya
LonkaLanka

The pictures of the characters in Ramakian are influenced by mural paintings. Ramakien is performed as puppetry and in theater. It has also influenced numerous classical arts in Thailand.

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