Indonesia in Focus
The Legend of Keong Mas
Prince Raden Putra was married to a princess named Dewi Limaran. One day when Dewi Limaran was walking in the palace garden, she saw a snail among her lovely flowers and she had one of her servants pick it up and throw it away. The Snail was actually an old witch who had disguised herself as a snail. The witch was very angry, so she cursed Dewi Limaran and changed her into a golden snail and threw it into the river. The stream carried it far away from the palace.
On the side of a big forest, there lived a poor widow. Her living was only fishing. One day it was a particularly bad day as she didn’t catch any fish. Again and again she spread her net, but nothing got caught into it. At last she pulled up the net to go home. Suddenly she saw something shining at the bottom of it. It was only a snail. Nevertheless she picked it up and took it home. Its shell shone like gold the old woman had never seen such a snail before.
At home she put it in an earthen pot. She then went to bed and soon was fast asleep as she was very tired. The next morning when she woke up, she found to her amazement that the floor had been swept clean and there was some food on the table. She wondered who had done all this. She thought she was dreaming, but she was not. She thought and thought but could not think of anybody who could have been so generous to her.
Some days passed….…..she then got an idea. The next morning she took her basket and went out as usual, but shortly she returned to her hut and hid herself. Suddenly she heard a soft movement inside the earthen pot and saw the snail creeping out of it. It grew bigger and bigger and in a moment a lovely young girl stood where the snail had been. The empty shell fell to the ground behind her. Quickly the young girl swept the floor. Then she took rice, vegetables, meat, eggs etc. out of the pot and began cooking.
When the old woman saw all this, she noticed that it was not an ordinary snail she had caught, but a person who lived under a spell, and she knew what she had to do to break it.
She crept stealthily to the empty shell, took it, and then rushed out of the hut to throw it into the river. Now she had broken only a part of the spell, and the rest of it must still be broken before she could return to her husband.
The young girl then made herself known to the old woman.
“I shall pray to the gods that the prince might be led to his place,” said the old woman.
Many years passed by…….
The king persuaded his son to look for another bride, but at first Prince Raden Putra refused as he could not forsake his wife. In the end, however, the prince asked his father if he could go out to find a bride, but one who was a look-alike of his former wife. An old faithful servant accompanied him on his trip.
They went from town to town and from village to village until one day were travelling through a big forest and they lost their way. Finally the men came to a big river and not far from it they saw a hut. They went to it to ask for some food and drink as they were hungry, thirsty and dead tired. The old woman welcomed them warmly. Raden Putra found the meal served by the old woman excellent. She told him that her daughter had prepared it. Raden Putra then asked whether he might meet and thank her daughter. The old woman had no objections and called her daughter to come out. The young girl appeared and knelt down in front of Raden Putra with her head bent.
When Raden Putra saw her, he caught his breath in great surprise as the young girl looked exactly like his former wife princess Dewi Limaran. “You are the bride I’m looking for!” he cried out. But the girl shook her head and said that she had made a promise : when a man wanted to marry her, he had to obtain the holy gamelan ( Javanese orchestra) from heaven which could make music without being touched.
Raden Putra was willing to try and went out into the forest. He then fasted and meditated. After a hundred days the gods heard and granted his wish.
On their wedding day the holy gamelan played its heavenly music. It was so beautiful that every person who heard it felt happier than ever.
The young girl than revealed her secret, that she was Dewi Limaran herself. The music of the gamelan had broken the evil witch’s spell.
The old woman had been invited to remain in the place. Now she had everything she wanted and sorrow had left her forever.
As told by Mrs Kusamadewi
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