Thursday, 30 June 2011

Kinnaree: Mytholgical Bird

Assalaamu'alaikum wa Rahmatullah!

This is apart of varieties of cultural traits shared by people in Southern Thailand, Northern and Eastern Coast States of Malaysia like Kedah, Perlis and Kelantan. Since not all of the people visiting Buddhists area, they might also want to know about these. 

So, don't worry we have videos and many things nowadays unlike those days back then. Although we do not practice it, some of our people in northern area especially of Buddhism background are still practicing it.

This is actually from my past experience as a kid who was 'dumped' to the state bordering Thailand. I encountered these cultural traits like Lung Norah or Menorah dance which is a dance originated from Southern Thailand when I wandered around like a strayed wild goose. 

Southern Thailand and Northern Malaysian states were previously an integral part of legendary Langkasukan empire. This performance is only prominent in Southern Thailand and also shared in Northern Malaysia predates the Siamese empire of Sukhothai (12th C) and Sri Ayutthaya (13th C). 

Sometimes, this performance also being part of ritual in commemorating the dead. Also performed during thambun festival at temples like in Pendang district in Kedah. Never been to Pendang temples but I heard from people there. I am just familiar with those in Perlis and Kubang Pasu. Usually, this dance portrays story about kinnaree sacrifice for love in fire. It sounds like the name of a bird in malay too. According to mythologies, it is a kind of angelic half human bird in buddhists' mythology. You may see this half human bird statues at Thai temples everywhere in those states mentioned or in Thailand. 

The word menora is actually derived from Sanskrit word, manohara which means pretty and it is referring to the main character of the dance. This character was derived from phra phrannyasa jatoq or jataka tales. What I heard about Hindus'... I mean Indians' mythology, this kind of creature is associated with half human horse or centaur. I guess mentioned somewhere in mahabharata.

Performers would perform dances that they are good at like mentioned in the video. Sometimes they have po' phrant which acts as pak lawak or joker if the performance has the dialogue or simply without dialogue one. They also have musicians. You can hear the sound from the video. Before the performance took place, performers might also paying homage to sages or phra phor statues and peforming rituals like Kaliya Natarat. You spell it as Kaliya Nataraja. It is for them to get blessings from their teachers. They may also seeking protection from Hindu god whom role in buddhism is as the protector of the three gems or buddhist principles like viganet, write it as viganeswara. Viganet is the elephant head god where you could also see in Malaysia at Indians' premises like shops and others. They believe that it is to banish obstacles during performance and making it flows well. 

This puja session applies to wayang kulit and other performances as well. That's why Kelantan state government had banned wayang kulit among Muslim practitioners when it was associated with these rituals. It is not easy to change people thinking as to say da'awa is not performed in one day. The ulamas in Patani and other parts of South Thai were having hard times too. It still goes on because the result is not showing up only in one day or in a blink of an eyes. It takes every sacrifice including these people tears and time to change people thoughts. These people have to monitor the environment and people around too.

I used to bring friend who mingles with me like Azren to see these kinds of performance just for fun and to introduce to friend different things that exist in this world. We also had USM cultural nights in Dewan Budaya. Last time during first degree, I went for Thai Cultural Nights and they were sponsored by Thai Consulate of Penang. Sometimes I was there to support my Thai seniors who took part in cultural performances. They served luxurious Thai cuisine as well after the performances and movies screening for two nights. 

Most of my Thai seniors are actually Buddhists and I wasn't really talking to Muslim Thais whom ethnically are Malays of Southern provinces neighboring our states. Those Buddhist seniors or mine are also of Malay descents and natives of Southern Thai provinces. A Thai Buddhist senior had also wonders, why I know many things about Thai Buddhism including Jaya Mangala Gatha despite that I am a Muslim. We had long discussions until late night regarding a prophesied event in Abhidhamma Pitaka and other Buddhist texts that we commonly read because that friend is quite religious, heheheheheehe... She suspects that I am a Buddhist. I was just lazy to explain. My mouth as always, feels heavy to open up.

This is just an additional knowledge for share among friends, brothers, and sisters. I watched these too last time whether at temple festivals or at the university these recent. Just sharing around for others to see how it works if others have no experience.  

Sealed with prayers for peace, mercy, and love for brothers and sisters in faith and for humanity, amin!

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