Research, Bali Conference and Mahabharata

My research area is finite element analysis (FEA) for composite structures. It has been 3 years I’m involved in one branch of computational mechanics. I gain much knowledge, pleasure and nurtured-curiousity at every level. At NUS, I’m assigned to work on micromechanics finite element analysis. One part in a new failure theory for composite (strain invariant failure theory) is needed to be verified using this micromechanics. Boeing invented the theory few years ago, and it has been tested experimentally and computationally by some universities (including NUS) so that it can be applicable to general condition. It’s an ongoing research, I would say. And, no final expression for its generality. From this research, I could submit one conference paper, and later it will be published as international journal in Key Engineering Material. Excellent happening.

The conference was held in Bali, in April 4 – 6, 2005. I took a flight from Singapore to Surabaya, and went to my hometown Bondowoso 4 hours by car. From Bondowoso, I drove my car to Bali by myself. It’s such a wonderful repetition that I could drive to Bali island; however, this time I go alone. Around 250 papers were presented by many scientists from China, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, USA and Germany. And within 3 days of conference, the committe brought us to itinerary called Garuda Wisnu Kencana. Huge statue can be seen in this place, and I really enjoyed the dinner. One thing I couldn’t forget is Kecak Fire and Trance Dance as one part of Ramayana epic. Yes, I know Ramayana epic since I was 8, even I have visited some of its heritages like Prambanan, Borobudur, Penataran, and other temples which actually embodied the epic.

Anyway, I never really enjoy traditional dance as I couldn’t understand what are the dancers doing except they are moving around following gamelan’s sounds. But this time, I tried (not so hard) to enjoy and to understand the movement. Before the show, somebody spread out the pamphlet with short introduction in it. It’s about Kecak Dance. Allow me to reproduce it:

Kecak is a unique Balinese dance in which the artists are accompanied by choir of a hundred men rather than the traditional gamelan orchestra. Its origins can be traced to an ancient dance ritual called Sanghyang (or trance dance). During the performance, the dancers enter a trance-like state, which enables them to communicate with deities, or ancestors who express their wishes through the dancers. The Indian epic, Ramayana, is included in the Kecak.

I saw 100 males (aged between 10 – 40 years old) forming a circle around fire. They sounded “cak cak cak …” hundred times and no weary mouths. They formed a music ensemble with the sound. It’s a bit monotonic though. Gamelan was also performing along with cak-cak-cak sounds. I saw one conductor among these 100 fellows, and he seemed so restless. Then, the Ramayana epic began as Kecak dance had been performing 20 minutes. It’s about Prince Rama and Princess Sita (people in Indonesia know Sita as “Shinta”). For those who don’t know the story of Rama and Sita, I will briefly describe herein:

Prince Rama, heir to the throne of Ayodya, was exiled from the kingdom ruled by his father Dasarata following an evil trick being played on the young prince. Accompanied by his wife Sita and his younger brother Laksamana, the trio entered the Dandaka forest. While in the forest, they fell prey to the demon King Rahwana who lusted after the beautiful Sita.

Using magical powers, Rahwana’s prime minister, Marica, set about laying a trap to steal Sita away from her husband. Marica turned himself into a golden deer and soon lured Rama and Laksamana away from Sita. While her husband and brother-in-law distracted by the beautiful deer, Rahwana seized the opportunity to kidnap Sita, taking the distressed princess to his palace, Alengka. When they realized the deception, Rama and Laksamana set up a plan to rescue his beloved Sita from the clutches of the evil demon king.

Helped by a huge army of monkeys led by the Monkey King, Sugriwa, a fierce battle raged between the monkeys and Rahwana’s army led by his son, Meganada, who eventually lost the contest. Sita was happily reunited with her husband, Rama, and brother-in-law, Laksamana. I was stunned and concentrating on the story. I tried to fill up and arrange puzzle which finally I could understand the dance. It was really great feeling how the hatred to a dance can turn into loving and understanding! Above all, it was wonderful experience to complete my understanding on arts.

I am sitting second from the left, with conference committe members and Kecak dancers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s