Week 7 LAB Projects 2017

Ramayana Performed: Hinduism in Bali

Participating Faculty: Sarah Weiss

Project Duration: Tuesday, 26 September to Saturday, 7 October


  • This Week 7 departs on Tuesday, September 26. Students will need to return early from vacation and should plan on having preparatory work done before the trip.
  • This Week 7 will require a student co-pay of S$500. (Financial aid and merit grants are available. Please do not let finances deter you from participating).
  • Summary
  • Itinerary
  • Readings

Course Summary:

Participants in this Week Seven course will travel to Bali to investigate the Ramayana as it is performed and interpreted, artistically and otherwise, in Bali. They will witness performances of the Ramayana Ballet, the Kecak Ramayana, and possibly a wayang kulit performance with a Ramayana theme. They will participate in workshops in: dance; kecak chanting; gamelan performance; Kamasan painting; and the creation of sajen or offerings.

Programme Partners: I Made Bandem, Dewa Berata, Emiko Saraswati Susilo, Dewa Ayu Eka Putri

Aims and Objectives:

In LitHum1 students read excerpts from some of the exciting scenes of the Ramayana. But most people in the world who know the Ramayana first encounter it in representational and embodied forms as part of religious or artistic practice. In Bali, Yale-NUS students will:

  • Engage both, simultaneously deepening their knowledge of the epic story and developing an understanding of the ways in which concepts and practices have traditionally been “localised” and adapted in Southeast Asia over the millennia (a core concept in Southeast Asian Studies).
  • Encounter an aesthetic world that is radically different from anything else they have experienced (unless, of course, they are Balinese).
  • Learn about the practice of Hinduism in Bali, with a particular focus on the human geographical concept of Kaja and Kelod – the ways in which houses, kampung, and towns are all oriented along cardinal points that are aligned, not with true geographic points but, with the site which is the centre of Balinese Hinduism, Gunung Agung on the eastern side of the island (to which we will also make a pilgrimage).
  • Engage in a personal way with many of the important artistic practices in Bali in the context of understanding the way an ancient story can still be embedded in contemporary life. 

Some of Our Themes:

  • Kaja Kelod
  • Tourism
  • Hindu Bali in Muslim Indonesia
  • Balinese Hinduism and Indian Hinduism
  • Tradition as a form of modernity
  • Mapping Hinduism onto Bali, Bodies onto Bali, Hinduism onto Bodies.
Other Week 7 LABs