‘Joe Louis Puppet Theater’ at Vic Hua Hin

On Saturday 6 November, the Vic Hua Hin Theatre will premiere a new show by the Joe Louis Puppet Theater, Thailand’s most famous traditional puppet theater company.

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Kurumawatan: The Myth of Rahoo and the Lunar Eclipse

This is one of the most famous episodes in the Ramakian, Thailand’s version of the epic Hindu drama the Ramayana. The story is enacted on a cosmic scale, with traditional Thai operatic singing and orchestra.

Kurumawatan will run every Saturday in November (6, 13, 20, 27 November) as the theater company takes up a month-long residency. Shows start at 7:15pm, with food and drink available from 6pm outside the theater.

The Cast:

a. Gods

b. Demons

c. Angels

d. The Sun

e. The Moon

f. Wizards

g. A beautiful Demon princess (Benjakai)

h. A man-sized white monkey (Hanuman)

i. A giant man-bird (Garuda)

j. A huge snake with five heads (Naga)

k. The elixir of life itself

Other than that, nobody very interesting. 🙂


Once upon a time, the sage-wizard Turawat went to visit heaven. While walking in the garden there, an angel gave him a garland. He was very happy. When he saw the god Indra, on the back of an elephant, he presented him with the garland. Indra thanked him and placed the garland on the head of the elephant.

The fragrance of the garland was so strong, however, that the elephant went into musk. It took the garland off its head, threw it on the ground and crushed it under its feet. Turawat was offended: he thought the elephant did this on the command of Indra.

In anger, he cast a spell on all the deities to reduce their powers.

When the demons heard about this, they invaded heaven. The gods and deities, weakened, were unable to repel them, losing every battle.

The Story of Rahoo and the Lunar Eclipse

On earth, Hanuman (a white monkey and famous warrior) is chasing the beautiful Benjakai. He is trying to seduce her. But, gradually, owing to a lunar eclipse, he is unable to see her. He wonders why.

The scene shifts to heaven….

The gods try to fend off the invading demons. The demons win every battle because the gods have lost their powers owing to the spell of the sage-wizard Turawat. At the end of every battle, the gods flee in disarray.

One of the gods awakens Narai, a senior god, by blowing a conch shell three times, and tells him of the successful invasion of the demons. Narai rides off on Garuda, half-man half-bird, to see the latest fight.

In awe, both the gods and the demons stop fighting when Narai approaches. The gods tell Narai about the demons. He says that the gods can win by using strategy. He suggests to the gods that they enter into a truce with the demons long enough secure their help in making Amarit, the elixir of life, after which the gods should drink the elixir to restore their strength and regain their immortality. Only then will the gods have the strength to get rid of the demons.

Amarit, he tells them, is made by churning an ocean of milk with a paddle made of a high mountain that has been cut at the base and turned upside down. The paddle is to be turned by coiling the body of one of the great Naga serpents around it and pulling it to and fro. Narai then tells the gods to cut the mountain at the base and wait while he sends the demons to catch the great serpent.

While Narai is saying all this, the arch-demon Rahoo, is eavesdropping. When they leave, Rahoo comes forward to introduce himself. He says that he has heard everything Narai said, and will go to watch the making of Amarit. He announces his intention to steal a drink of this strengthening and immortal elixir.

The Churning of the Ocean of Milk

When a Naga appears, a demon tricks it into going around the upside down mountain. The god then grab its tail while the demons grab its five heads. They pull the poor Naga to and fro to churn the ocean of milk. Another senior god, Isuan, looks on. The Naga is now in agony and spits venom and fire. To protect the others and keep the process going, Isuan swallows the venom and fire. He scorches his throat, and, in pain, leaves the scene.

The weight of the mountain, with its inverted apex pressing down heavily on the ocean floor, cracks the ocean bed and the milk leaks out. To seal the leak, the senior god Narai transforms himself into a giant turtle and crawls into the Ocean of Milk and places himself under the inverted apex of the mountain.

The leak is successfully sealed. The churning continues, yielding 8 magical results in succession:

1. Surapee, the magic cow and symbol of plentitude.

2. Warunee, the magic alcoholic beverage and origin of all alcoholic drinks.

3. Parichart, a tree from heaven the scent of whose flowers is adored by the angels.

4. Apsaras, the dancing angels.

5. The Moon itself.

6. Venom, which nobody wants except the Nagas and other snakes.

7. A lotus in whose center is Laksami, future bride of the senior god, Narai.

8. The heavenly doctor Tanwantalee. He holds in his hands a grail containing Amarit, the elixir of life.

Pandemonium Ensues

The demons try to snatch the elixir. The gods try to stop them. Narai sees what is happening. He transforms himself into a beautiful girl and walks by the demons to distract them. The gods quickly drink Amarit. When the demons see this, they become angry. They realize they have been tricked, and start fighting with the gods.

The Sun and the Moon look on from one side and see the demon lose the fight. Meanwhile, the arch-demon, Rahoo, hiding on the other side, seizes the opportunity and drinks Amarit. When the Sun and the Moon turn and see Rahoo stealing a drink of the elixir, they attack Rahoo but they lose and flee. Rahoo pursues them. He catches up with the Sun, who continues the fight while the Moon escapes to report what happened to Narai.

Narai sends the Moon to lures Rahoo to him. When Rahoo draws near, Narai throws his crystal chakra at him and cut him in half. However Rahoo does not die because he has drunk the elixir of life. He is very angry and swears vengeance on the Moon. He swears he will eat the Moon to kill it when he sees it.

Shortly thereafter, the first lunar eclipse occurs. Rahoo swallows the Moon and the world is darkened. But he cannot swallow the Moon successfully – he has been cut in half – and so the Moon escapes.

The world can again enjoy the lovely moonlight, and Hanuman the white monkey can continue to pursue the beautiful Benjakai….

And this is the explanation of the lunar eclipse.


Did you get all of that?


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