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Summarize in not more than 120 words, the uses of Wayangs in Indonesia, according to the writer

 
For many years, The wayang kulit has been the most dominant form of mass communication in Indonesia. Literally meaning 'shadow', the wayang is performed at night. Puppets portraying mythological tales are manipulated by the dalangs or story-tellers behind the screen. A strong white light would be cast on the screen and the audience would watch the silhouettes of the moving puppets, accompanied by a gamelan -- a Javanese orchestra of largely percussion instruments.

Many of us view wayangs as a form of entertainment, just like the modern cinemas or theaters. In Indonesia, however, the wayang has a more profound role. A refined art, it is saturated with the morals and mysticism of the Indonesian religions. In fact, many Indonesians believe that the spirits of the dead reside in the shadows of the puppets.

Uniquely, wayangs are used as a mass of communication between the authority and general public in Indonesia. 'Secretariats' are engaged by the Government to encourage story-tellers of wayangs to transform ideas such as birth control and rice production into their tales, hence bringing the messages across to the public effectively. The wayang is also a convenient political tool, particularly in the event of election. Pro-government propaganda can be neatly woven into the shadow plays, thus effectively winning the support and trust of the people.

The subtlety of the wayang kulit is a double-edged sword for it is also used by those who wish to voice out their heartfelt grievances against the government. For example, the act of tossing a shadow puppet into a river and allowing it to be carried upstream reflects the hopeless nature of those in power. Such discreet and implicit criticism courts less trouble than outright condemnations in newspaper reports or speeches.

In Java and on the island of Bali, where there is a strong oral tradition, epic tales of Indian origin are particularly popular. These include the Ramayanas and the Mahabharata and the Pandavas and Kauravas. Wayangs are also rituals performed at weddings, births and other important occasions in Java. Though in most small villages, wayangs are commonly regarded as a form of entertainment, these shadow plays also provide an opportunity for meditation. The audience would gather after the evening prayers and listen, trance-like, to the dalangs narration till wee hours of dawn.

Indeed, understanding the pivotal role of the wayang, has helped us become more aware of the Indonesian culture and society.

 
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Answer
 

Wayangs are generally regarded as a form of entertainment in Indonesia. However, being refined and religion-based, wayangs are also tools used by the government to bring across desired messages or to present favorable images of themselves to the public. These are often done by engaging 'Secretariats' to encourage story-tellers of wayangs to weave desired information into their tales and project ideas to the public. Cautious critics also make use of the subtlety of wayangs to criticize the government, hence, courting less troubles than outright condemnations. In addition, wayangs are rituals performed during important occasions. Finally, wayangs also provide opportunities for meditation whereby the people listen to the dalang's tales in a trance throughout the night. ( 115 words )

     
subtlety   a small and important detail
     
trance   a temporary mental condition in which someone is not completely conscious of and/or not in control of themselves and of what is happening to them
     
wee hours   the hours immediately after midnight
     
 
 

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