The unique love story of Ravana and Mandodari told through dance

Photo courtesy: VK Arts
Photo courtesy: VK Arts

The ‘red thread of fate’ - a concept mentioned in many, primarily eastern, cultures. A theory that attempts to explain and describe the connection between two people, that transcends their mortal existence. Finding a lot of emphasis in Japanese culture in particular, the ‘red thread of fate’ is a holistic philosophy, which believes that existence isn’t confined to the physical body and a connection to the larger universe is the reason for two people to be together. 

It is this unique concept that is explored through an upcoming dance production by Singapore dance company VK Arts, entitled ‘Thari – Bound By The Soul’.

‘Thari – Bound By The Soul’ explores the concept of the ‘red thread of fate’ through the interesting, and hardly ever talked about, love story of the King and Queen of Lanka - the demon-king Ravana and his consort Mandodari. 

Sherene Jeevitha Joseph, Director of VK Arts. Photo courtesy: VK Arts
Sherene Jeevitha Joseph, Director of VK Arts. Photo courtesy: VK Arts

 

“I have always been intrigued by the character Mandodari – the way she found reason in all Ravana’s actions and bounded it under her oath to be his wife. I wondered how it is possible for one to be in love with someone who represents the very essence of evil,” explained Sherene Jeevitha Joseph, Director of VK Arts.

The production attempts to personalise the character of Mandodari, about whom very little is written in folklore and mythology, and who very rarely serves as the inspiration for storytelling in the world of Indian classical dance. 

Photo courtesy: VK Arts
Photo courtesy: VK Arts

‘Thari - Bound by the Soul’ tries to humanise her and examine her connection with the asura (demon) king, exploring the ‘red thread’ in her life that connected her to Ravana despite all the injustices meted out to her by him. 

“I wanted to explore this soulmate connection that enables a person to completely embrace another in their true element, accepting both positive and negative parts of them,” said Sherene.

The performance takes the audience through Mandodari’s life - starting in the battlefield, moving on to how Mandodari and Ravana met, got married, how she lived with the pain of knowing he had a harem, how she still stood by him in war and concludes back at the battlefield. All throughout this the dancers aim to  exhibit the red thread that weaves together the two protagonists. 

“It is not just about the way Mandodari embraces Ravana as a lover, standing by his side and even celebrating him. I wanted the theme to push beyond the norms of wifehood, and give a voice to their relationship,” explains Sherene.  

Thari – Bound By The Soul will be staged at Stamford Arts Centre Blackbox on July 20 (8 pm) and July 21 (3 pm).

Author
Kareyst Lin
Kareyst Lin – Senior Writer

Kareyst has experience in writing about B2B technology for Computerworld Singapore, MIS Asia and CIO Asia; and on government technology for GCIO Asia. Her pet areas are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and smart cities - these are fueled by her obsession with sci-fi movies and philosophy of mind. An active Yoga practitioner and cat lover, with a background in Indian philosophy, subaltern and diaspora studies.

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