Illustrated of Mekhala and Ramasura, from a samut khoi of Thai poetry in the second half of the 19th century. Now in the collection of Bavarian State Library, Germany.

Manimekhala (Pali: Maṇīmekhalā) is a goddess in the Hindu-Buddhist mythology. She is regarded as a guardian of the seas, namely the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea as part of the mythology of Southeast Asia. She was placed by Cātummahārājika to protect virtuous beings from shipwreck.[1] She appears in several Buddhist stories including the Mahanipata Jataka (Mahajanaka Jataka), in which she rescues Prince Mahajanaka from a shipwreck.[2]


In Pali, maṇīmekhalā refers to a girdle or belt of jewels. In Southeast Asia, she is known by various indigenized appellations, including as Mani Maykhala (Burmese: မဏိမေခလာ) in Burmese, as Moni Mekhala (Khmer: មណីមេខលា) or Neang Mekhala (Khmer: នាងមេខលា) in Khmer; as Mani Mekkhala (Thai: มณีเมขลา) in Thai.

In Mainland Southeast AsiaEdit

Archaeological evidence of Manimekhala in the form of reliefs has been found in Zothoke, Myanmar (near Bilin, dating to the first millennium AD.[3]

Manimekhala is seen in wat paintings across Mainland Southeast Asia depicting scenes from the Mahajanaka.[2] In Thailand and Cambodia, she is considered a goddess of lightning and the seas.

Manimekhala and RamasuraEdit

The story of Manimekhala and Ramasura (in Cambodia known as Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso) is mentioned many times in the classical literature of Cambodia and Thailand. It depicts Manimekhala along with Ramasura (usually considered a depiction of Parashurama) and Arjuna. According to legend, the phenomena of lightning and thunder is produced from the flashing of Manimekhala's crystal ball and the sound of Ramasura's axe as he pursues her through the skies.[4][5]

In Sri LankaEdit

In Sri Lanka, she is considered to be the sea goddess. In the Tamil epic poem, the Manimekalai, she puts the eponymous heroine to sleep and takes her to the island Maṇipallavam (Nainatheevu). In the mythic cycle of the god Devol, when the latter approaches Sri Lanka and his ship founders, it is Manimekhalai, on the instructions of the god Śakra, who conjures up a stone boat to save him.


In the classical dance traditions of Thailand and Cambodia, sacred dramatic dances depict the story of Manimekhala and Ramasura.


Robam Moni Mekala (Khmer: របាំមុនីមេខលា, also known as Robam Mekhala-Reamso) is a Khmer classical dance that portrays the story of Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso. It is part of the buong suong dance suite that is among the most sacred of Khmer classical dances, serving a ceremonial purpose to invoke rain upon the land.[6]


In Thailand, the Mekkhala–Ramasun dance was performed as a boek rong ('prelude dance') introduction before main performances of lakhon nai or khon dances.[7][8]

In modern usageEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ G.P. Malalasekera. Dictionary of Pali Proper Names: Pali-English. Asian Educational Services, 2003
  2. ^ a b Anne Elizabeth Monius. Imagining a place for Buddhism: literary culture and religious community in Tamil-speaking South India. Oxford University Press US, 2001, pages 111-112
  3. ^ MOORE, ELIZABETH; WIN, SAN (2007). "The Gold Coast: Suvannabhumi? Lower Myanmar Walled Sites of the First Millennium A.D.". Asian Perspectives. 46 (1): 202–232. ISSN 0066-8435. JSTOR 42928710.
  4. ^ Candelario, Rosemary (2014-04-14). "Moni Mekhala and Ream Eyso Edited by Prumsodun Ok (review)". Asian Theatre Journal. 31 (1): 324–326. doi:10.1353/atj.2014.0027. ISSN 1527-2109.
  5. ^ "Cambodian Folktales | Southeast Asia Program". Retrieved 2019-11-22.
  6. ^ Cravath, Paul. Asian Theatre Journal, Vol. 3, No. 2 (Autumn, 1986), pp. 179-203 (The Ritual Origins of the Classical Dance Drama of Cambodia) University of Hawai'i Press
  7. ^ "เรียนรู้เรื่องรำไทย ระบำชุด เมขลารามสูร". (in Thai). Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  8. ^ Prasert Sontipong (2002). กระบวนท่ารำของรามสูรในการแสดงเบิกโรงละครใน [Ramasura dance patterns in lakon nai dance prelude] (master's thesis). Chulalongkorn University. ISBN 974-17-2465-9.

External linksEdit