An 11-member Cambodian dance troupe gracefully enacted the life of the Buddha

We have all heard about the prince who abandoned his royal throne and his worldly life to be an ascetic and then went on to become Lord Buddha. I watched enchanted as Cambodian dancers enacted in soft, gentle movements sketches from the life of the Buddha. The Indian Council For Cultural Relations and Royal Embassy Of Cambodia in India were hosting an evening of traditional folk dances and music by an 11-member troupe from Cambodia at the Khincha auditorium.

The dance opened with the “Best Wishes” dance, one that is traditionally performed to give blessings to the king, country leaders or official guests visiting the country. The dancers tossed flowers as a sign of ever-lasting happiness and prosperity and heralded the evening in with more grace and movement.

The “Mara Vijay” dance was performed depicting a moment from Buddha's life where he met a man carrying bundles of thatching grass. On seeing Siddhartha, the man offered him eight handfuls of thatching grass. Siddhartha accepted the grass from the man and continued to go to the Bodhi tree where he spread the grass and sat on it. The grass became a throne and went on to gain enlightenment under the same tree. It was at that time the evil Mara's daughters came to lure him out of his meditation, and when they failed. The Mara appeared and challenged the Buddha to a fight in return for the throne. The Mara was eventually defeated and accepted Buddha as the victor.

The dancers looked exotic in their traditional costumes and make up. And the stories were communicated expertly to an enthralled audience who were not left behind irrespective of the language barrier. They also performed the “Moni Mekhala”, which is a classical Khmer dance, which depicts the greed and anger of a cruel person towards the innocent, but all is well as good triumphs over evil.