Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Ulek Mayang

I thought to write you about Ulek Mayang. This is an old song about a sea princess or mermaid who fell for a fisherman or a prince and she cast a spell to get this man for herself. The stories are written in Malay and English in YouTube (copied, pasted & edited below). The lyrics are in Terengganu Malay or Kelantan Malay.

It took me many years to understand the lyrics and the story behind the song and the trance and supernatural stuff involved. Some say not to sing this song or the same spell will befall on the singer. Some say not to act the song in plays or dance to its tune as slipping into a trance is possible. There are many things mentioned about this song that I stayed away from it for very long. 

So here it is .... Ulek Mayang, for whatever truth there is in the song and what it stands for in the Malay community. 

YouTube - Ulek Mayang
YouTube - Ulek Mayang (floral bath) 
YouTube - Ulek Mayang (sea spirits) 


Tarian ini berasal dari upacara kuno merawat oleh seorang bomoh Melayu pada badan seorang nelayan yang berada dalam keadaan tidak sedar. Nelayan itu dipercayai telah dipukau oleh salah seorang puteri yang jatuh cinta padanya. Percubaan bomoh untuk membawa balik roh nelayan itu menyebabkan puteri itu memerintah salah seorang dari adik-beradik perempuannya untuk memukau nelayan. Perang di antara bomoh dan keenam-enam puteri berlanjutan hingga puteri yang ketujuh dan sulung bermuncul dan menamatnya.

"Sayu tahu asal usul kamu” berkata puteri sulung dan beliau memerintah semua orang, "Biarkan mereka yang berasal dari laut kembali ke laut, dan mereka yang berasal dari darat kembali ke darat".
Bomoh yang terhutang budi dan rakan-rakan nelayan menyampaikan puteri itu dengan nasi berwarna sebagai pengorbanan, suatu upacara amal yang berlanjutan diamal sehingga ketibaan Islam, untuk berhutang budi kepada semangat-semangat laut.


The Ulek Mayang that I created is kind of a new version. Instead of saving the lives of fishermen that the Puteri Duyung always do, this time circa 1511, the 7th Puteri Duyung at the time she was a budding Puteri Ulek Mayang but had not reached the age of the Puteri Ulek. The young Puteri Duyung on a stormy night, saved the life of a Malay prince. For seven days and seven nights, the seven Puteri Ulek Mayang mengulek to revive the spirit of the Malay prince and his hulubalang that had been lying uncouncious. The Puteri Duyung, secretly on her own, danced the Ulek Mayang to save the life of her new found love. And on the 7th night, the prince and his hulubalang finally revived. The prince could not forget the glimpse of Puteri Duyung. The moment he recovered he immediately fell in love with Puteri Duyung. Thus the forbidden love germinated between the two lovers of different worlds against the will and the liking of the oceanic spirits. The hulubalang soon returned bringing with them the 7 Wasiat, while the prince decided to stay and marry his beloved Puteri Duyung. They stayed there for a long period until one day...the prince told his lover...."sudah tikanya kanda pulang....." (it is time for me to return). - More at GEMPAMELAYU!!!


This song is ancient, and before the arrival of Islam to the Malay lands (Tanah Melayu), circa 1511, when the Portuguese arrived in Malacca. It involves summoning spirits from the sea. I think now we are aware of the origin of this phrase "Hei, jembalang tanah jembalang laut, jembalang angin..."? It is pre-Islamic.

As doctors, you will see patients who complain of these spirits and you should know where they are coming from .... infested by stray ancient spirits. How do you then cure such patients?  You can look up cures for sihir (sihr) or Malay black magic, or mystics of the ancient Malay world and words like saka which have to do with the spirit of reincarnation (an element of Buddhist belief). For modern day Muslim doctors, most practise syifa' which invloves reciting verses from the Quran. We have not integrated syifa' with allopathy (western medicine). Once we do that, psychological and psychiatric problems will be easier to treat, hopefully.