Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Legend of Pulau Besar


The largest of eight islands off the coast of Malacca, Pulau Besar
(Big Island) covers an area of approximately 133 hectares and is said to resemble the shape of a pregnant woman. According to the earliest myths, the Big Island has been inhabited by around 1400 BC, that is before the Malay sultanate of Malacca established. Since her earliest discovery, the Big Island served fishermen and traders as a potable water supply locality to those traversing through the Straits of Malacca.

This claim is reinforced by the existence of many old wells estimated at more than a hundred years around the coast of the Big Island and the position of the wells that are only a few meters from the beach. The Big Island is said to have hundreds of wells, but most of it is buried and can not be used again. 

Because the island is just a few kilometers from the port of Malacca, merchants, adventurers and missionaries were keen to inhabit the island. So much so,it is also well known as a Mystical Island that was filled with ancient islamic graves, tombs and mausoleums scattered around the island. Malaysian and Singaporean Indian Muslim adherents are known to travel far distances to offer their prayers here at certain times of the year in belief of this localities mystical properties.

Locals will tell you that amongst them was one (Sheikh) Sultan Ismail Ariffin and allegedly a direct descendant of the Prophet Family by way of Hussein bin Ali (grandson of the Prophet Muhammad). He and his followers had settled on the Big Island and built a small settlement to spread the teachings of Islam.
Besides Sheikh Ismail, the island was also inhabited by Sheikh Yusuf Al-Sidiq who was a Sufi master of great knowledge whose prowess was in memorizing thousands of hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. It was unclear if this was also his birthplace, but he was among the scholars who participated in the entourage of Sheikh Ismail. He was a mentor to Sheikh Ismail.

According to the text of the 'Malay Annals' authored by the ancient malay author Tun Sri Lanang, once,the Sultan of Malacca had a dream about the coming of Islam in which it was indicated merchants would be docked at the Port of Malacca. Once they arrive, they will do something (prayer) on the beach. His Majesty thus commanded the treasurer and his team to wait on the beach to determine whether this dream was true or not. By the power of God, what he dreamed really happened, which eventually led to the Islamization of the Malay sultanate of Malacca and her entire colony.

In fact, this mysterious island has long been associated with intriguing legends and myths.

Famous amongst these, one myth has it that several hundred years ago, a beautiful and kind-hearted princess of the Sultanate of Malacca fell in love with a fisherman from Sumatra. When the fisherman had to return to Sumatra, he promised the princess that he would return to marry her.
A few months later, misfortune was to befall the happy couple when the boat the fisherman was on, capsized on its way to Malacca after being caught in a raging storm. The young fisherman was to go down with the ship.

All this time, the princess had been waiting patiently for the fisherman's return. She was soon to discover that she was pregnant. Hearing no news and in total desperation, she threw herself into the sea. Legend has it that her body miraculously floated to the site of her lover's capsized ship and remained there. This is said to account for the shape of the island of Pulau Besar.

Another legend is about the shrine of the seven princesses  The seven maidens were said to have been on their way to Pulau Besar from India in order to deepen their mysticism. Alas, their ship was also to sink along the way. The graves of the seven princesses were buried on the island and can still be seen until today.
There is a cave called "Yunos Cave".
It is believed that in ancient times, warriors came to the cave to learn the art of mysticism. It was also used for the training of the art of 'silat', a form of martial arts.

And then there is the famous Batu Belah or Split Rock. When looking at the rock, you should bear in mind the story behind it. It tells the tale of a young apprentice who did not obey the teachings of his master who told him never to misuse his power.

He choose not to heed this advice. 
Before he could repent, his master took out his sword and sliced the rock he was sitting on. The apprentice was to fall between the cracks, after which the rock was to mysteriously rejoin, trapping the apprentice forever.

Stories such as these and many more form the compendium of myths and legends that surrounds this beautiful island and yet, though it is but a short 15 minutes boat ride away from the coastal part of modern Melaka City it remains an intriguing mystery to most malaccan's today, 

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