Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Legend of Gua Cerita

The Gua Cerita or "Cave with a Legend" is one of the many fascinating limestone caves situated in the north-east of Langkawi. It comprises two limestone caves, one above the other and faces the sea. There are a number of legends associated with the Gua Cerita, one of which was related to Merong Maha Wangsa in the episode involving the Roman and the Chinese Emperors.

The story goes that the emperors of Rome and China had a plan to marry off their children. The scheme was opposed by the legendary Geruda (phoenix) who saw the union of the two great powers as a threat to the other smaller kingdoms. The Geruda was determined to quash the scheme; what it did was to abduct the Chinese pricess and hid her in a cave believed to be on Langkawi Island. It then set to attack and destroy the Roman fleet commanded by Merong Maha Wangsa with the Roman Prince on it. Merong Maha Wangsa is said to be of mythical origin, the descendents of an indera (a minor divinity) and a gergasi(orge).

During the battle Merong Maha Wangsa summoned the help of Jentayu, the mythical bird of water. However the Geruda was victorious. During the battle the Roman prince fell into the sea and was washed ashore on the island where the Chinese princess was hidden. He was later found by the princess's maids and the couple were finally united in betrothal.

Meanwhile the Geruda had thought he was victorious but came to know later that the couple was united in marriage. In disgrace the Geruda vanished itself from the world.

There are other places in Langkawi with equally interesting and mysterious legends. The Gua Langsiar (Cave of the Banshee), somewhat weird sounding, was believed to be a haven for vampires. The caves with its ghost-like appearance immediately strikes a visitor of the semblance of truth with the legend. 

Legend of Gunung Raya and Gunung Machincang

There are two well known mountains in the heart of Langkawi Island, Gunung Raya and Gunung Mat Cincang. Added to the two and appearing to separate them is a hill called Bukit Sawar. The three were said to be human beings with respective names of Mat Raya, Mat Cincang and Mat Sawar.

Legend says Mat Raya's son was interested in marrying Mat Cincang's daughter, much to the displeasure of Mat Cincang. The boy was said to be of bad character. Despite the reluctance on Mat Cincang's side to accept the boy the marriage did take place. But unfortunately a fight broke out during the wedding feast.

During the fight everyone became violent and pots and pans were flung at one another. A big pot of gravy was broken and the contents spilt on the ground. The spot where the gravy spilt is known as Kuah (gravy) and where the pot was broken as Belanga Pecah (broken pot). A couldron of hot water was also spilt on the ground and the spot is known as Air Panas (hot water).

The fight between the two families went on until it was intervened by Mat Sawar. Both parties reconciled and decided to transform themselves including Mat Sawar into their present forms.

Legend of Beras Terbakar

Kampong Raja at Padang Matsirat was the ancient capital of Langkawi. During the heyday of Langkawi the island's rice granary was located there.

During the Siamese invasion of Langkawi in 1821 the Chieftain of Langkawi, Dato' Karma Jaya, ordered the granary to be burnt in order to starve the enemy. Remnants of the burnt rice could still be seen today at the very spot of the burnt granary which is known as Beras Terbakar (Burnt Rice).

The burnt rice is said to have been buried a few metres below ground but often appears on the surface after a rainy day.

Legend of Tasik Dayang Bunting

Tasik Dayang Bunting is a fresh water lake on the island of Dayang Bunting, the second largest in the Langkawi archipelago. There appears to be several versions of the Dayang Bunting legend.

One version has it that Dayang Bunting was a giant guardian spirit that kept watch over the islands. The lady's defenses include her pet lion and poison from the tuba root, potent weapons for her protection. Hence, the two islands closest to Pulau Dayang Bunting, whose silhoutte resembles that of a reclined pregnant giant, are named Pulau Singa Besar (Great Lion Island) and Pulau Tuba (Poisonous Root Island). The story goes that, a group of rude merchants failed to pay the obligatory respects to Dayang Bunting as they passed by the islands. Rudely awakened by the intrusion, she summoned her pet lion to despatch the trespassers. She roused the spirits of wind and water, stirring up a tropical storm that unleashed its fury on the incoming fleet of sailors

The howling winds and tossing waves threw and dashed vessels on Pulau Jong (Junk Island), hence the remains of wrecked vessels. In the stormy affair, a cargo of black and white water buffaloes escaped to Pulau Gubang Darat (Land Stable Island) and Pulau Gubang Laut (Sea Stable Island) while the white buffaloes sheltered at Pulau Balar (White Water Buffalo Island). Yet other boats, laden with rice, was stranded at Pulau Beras Basah (Wet Rice Island).

In another story, a prince once ate half cooked rice during a wedding feast. He suffered indigestion and farted at two spots now known as Pulau Kentut Besar (big Fart Island) and Pulau Kentut Kecil (Small Fart Island)!
The second version of Dayang Bunting is closely associated with the romantic exploitery of Mambang Sari, a beautiful female genie and Mat Teja, a male genie. Mambang Sari used to frequent the island accompanied by her maids. Their favourite spot was Pasir Teluk Air Tahun and Teluk Lawak. One day Mat Teja saw Mambang Sari and was struck by her beauty. He fell in love with her and used to follow her wherever she went. Once while on a lookout for her, he met Tok Diang an old man from the village. Mat Teja told him of his love for Mambang Sari but just did not know how to reveal this secret. He feared that his love might not be reciprocated.

Tok Diang asked Mat Teja to get the tears of a mermaid from the sea and to wipe them on his face the next time he met Mambang Sari. He did just that and when Mambang Sari saw him she fell in love with him. They often met at various places to enjoy the beauty and serenity of these spots. They became more intimate and as a result Mambang Sari became pregnant.

She chose to retire at Tasik Dayang Beranak (Lake of Born Maiden) to give birth. Unfortunately the child died after seven days. Saddened by the death Mambang Sari took the child's body and threw it into the lake, Tasik Dayang Beranak. The lake later came to be known as Tasik Dayang Bunting. Some people believe the water of the lake possesses some mystical power of helping barren women to bear children. 

mirror : Bumi Langkawi Homestay

Legend of Mahsuri

The best known legend of Langkawi is of Mahsuri, a pretty maiden who lived during the reign of Sultan Abdullah Mukarram Shah the Second  who ruled Kedah between 1762 and 1800. She died under tragic circumstances for a crime she did not commit. She died a victim of a conspiracy plotted against her out of jealousy by Mahura, her very own mother-in-law for her magnetic personality. Mahura bitterly objected to her husband's intentions of taking Mahsuri as his second wife and eventually agreed that their son, Mat Deris should seek the hand of Mahsuri in marriage. Since than, Mahura had grown bitterly jealous of Mahsuri for whom she bore much hatred.

In time, Mahsuri gave birth to a baby boy and he was named Mat Arus. This inflamed Mahura even more. Mahsuri was accused of committing adultery with Deramang, a young troubadour who she befriended. The chieftain of Langkawi, Dato Karma Jaya, her own father-in-law was so taken in by Mahura's accusation that, without a proper investigation, he sentenced Mahsuri to death.

As proof of her innocence, some people say, white blood was seen gushing out of her wound during execution at Padang Hangus. Others maintain there was the sudden appearance of white mist that enveloped the spot where she was executed, which it was believed was a sign of mourning of her innocence.

Mahsuri is best remembered for her curse on Langkawi which was uttered before she died. She had said, "For this act of injustice Langkawi shall not prosper for seven generations to come." The execution of Mahsuri was indeed a tragedy of dramatic proportions. And her curse? Myth, legend or fantasy? History tells us that within a few years of Mahsuri's death, Langkawi was devasted by the Siamese and Datuk Seri Kerma Jaya and his entire family were killed. Rice fields and granaries were completely set on fire. 

To this day, grains that appear to be burnt rice grains are still to be found at Padang Matsirat.  However, many believe the curse is now over with the numerous development projects undertaken on the island.