Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bungklang Bungkling: Wayang (Shadow Puppet) by Wayan Juniartha

Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Wayang’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, published in Bali Post, Sunday 23rd October 2011. Translated by Putu Semiada.

Wayang (Shadow Puppet)

Why does less and less Balinese have names inspired from characters in the shadow puppets (wayang)?

“People used to name their children or grandchildren by characters in wayang,” says I Made Abimayu.

His wife will be delivering a baby in two weeks and he has been busy preparing a name.

“It’s been difficult to find a child’s name taken from characters in epics.”

Everybody nods. They know that it’s much easier to find a child named ‘Kevin’ instead of ‘Yudistira’ or ‘Natasha’ instead of ‘Srikandi’.

“Parents nowadays are getting clever,” comments I Putu Joblar.

I Made gets upset. He wants to name his future child taken from “wayang’ characters. But now his own friends tease him that parents naming their children characters from “wayang” are stupid.

“What did you say?” asks I Made.

“If you read Mahaberatha or Ramayana carefully, you won’t name your child taken from a wayang character.”

“Who wants to name his child ‘Yudistira’? In Mahabrata epic, it is said that Yudistira is wise and kind. But when he gambles against the ‘Kurawa’ his personality is totally changed. He even uses his brothers and wife as bets for gambling. If one does so, how could you consider him a wise man.

“And who wants to name his child ‘Arjuna’? In the epic it is said that Arjuna always claims himself single anywhere he goes to attract girls. He can’t stand when seeing a beautiful girl. He is good at meditating but becomes week when it comes to girls. Who wants to have a son like that never dares to fight but always chases girls.”

Let alone ‘Gatotkaca’ or Abimayu. No parents want their children to die young. No parents expect their children to be heroes. Heroes dies.”

Today, wayang is not popular anymore. Cinetrons, infotainment and political news are preferred,” comments Ketut Cenk Blong.

“If wayang was still popular, people would follow God’s orders properly and respect the truth (dharma) no matter what it takes.”

“Who wants to do that now? One would like to be rich as soon as he can — have a big house, a lot of cars, a beautiful wife, secret lovers everywhere, famous like cinetron stars, or like artists or politicians seen on television.”

“Today money seems to be the most important thing for everyone which makes one greedier. One sells anything one has (including parents’ lands) sacrificing one’s self-respect and cultural prostitution is now common. No matter if it makes one fight one’s own brother, or friends, or ignore ancestors’ messages (to save the land, etc).”

“They want their children to be good-looking, rich, and famous, like cinetron stars. That’s why one names children like cinetron stars such as: Julia, Pasha, Steve, Ruben, Selena, Justin and no more names such as Bima, Rama or Sahadewa.

“The thing is that it is difficult now to find someone whose behavior is as good as his name.