Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sang Gedembai Aka Hantu Galah

Sang Gedembai or Sang Kelembai is a type of mystical giant that was once believed to exist in the jungle of Malaysia Peninsula. It is said that Sang Gedembai can transform into many shapes. The most interesting aspect is that Sang Gedembai is believed to possess the ability to turn anything it wish into stone or anything it wishes.


Normally Malay will call Sang Gedembai as “Hantu Hutan” or “Hantu Galah”. This is because it has a physique similar to that of a human but with doubling height. It is also believed to be very ugly with long hairs.


Sang Gedembai Version Pahang


The Sang Gedembai found in Pahang is said to possess thick eye brows, a pug nose, elephant ears, fangs and three times as tall as an ordinary man. It is living along the Pahang River. Its diets are mainly bamboo shoots, fruits and also meat.


In Pahang, a Sang Gedembai is said to possess the power to transform man into stone that is: if the person answers to its call in the jungle. Below is a story of Sang Gedembai with its power:


“Initially Sang Gedembai did not notice its ability to turn things into stones. Story has it that one day; Sang Gedembai met an elephant with its calf in the jungle. So Sang Gedembai asked the elephant as to where it wanted to go. Almost instantly the elephant and its calf turned into stone. Then Sang Gedemabi continued with its journey into a village and met with a man cooking.


Again it asked the man what was being cooked. And again, the man turned into stone. It apologized to all the folks who have witnessed the scenario; they too were turned into stones.


One day, Sang Gedembai saw a man cooking porridge with a big port ready to serve wedding guests. The man was short sighted and was not able to identify it was Sang Gedembai. So he invited Sang Gedembai to attend the wedding also. Due to the fear of keep turning good people into stones, Sang Gedembai hastily ran off. And in a flurry, it stumbled over a rock and fall face down to the ground. Sang Gedembai was panic and without realising itself, opened its mouth and begin to curse. What else, all of the attendants of the wedding immediately transformed into stones!


So Sang Gedembai was annoyed, and it lifted up the pot of pot containing porridge and threw the pot into the Pahang River. The big pot then became a small island in the middle of Pahang River until today; it is now known as “Batu Kari’. The porridge splashed onto the other side of the river bank and became a village called “Kampung Bur”; short for “Bubur” (porridge).


Since the unfortunate incident, Sang Gedembai isolates itself with human beings and always distances itself from general public. Sang Gedembai was so disappointed with itself and always curse its ill fate. People who live in Pahang villages are aware of the curse of Sang Gedembai and they are lived in fear.


Finally a resolution was made to chase Sang Gedembai from Pahang. They devised to put an old lady without teeth into a baby stroller. They also put a few tortoises into the stroller.


When this Sang Gedembai saw this baby stroller, it was shocked and frighten. It was a little oversized to be called a baby stroller. Hard to imagine what will this baby become when it grows up later. In addition to that, the tortoise in the stroller resembles gigantic flees.


Sang Gedembai finally ran headlong from human’s dwelling because it thought human and animals have transformed into giants; and Sang Gedembai believed that people will kill it because people are hostile towards it. Sang Gedembai also believed that human will take revenge on it because it has turned humans’ relatives and family members into stone.


Ever since the incident, Sang Gedembai was hence extinct from Pahang.”


Sang Gedembai Version Langkawi


Sang Gedembai in Langkawi folklore is somehow different.


It was told in Langkawi folklore that Sang Gedembai was actually a very pretty woman. This Langkawi Gedembai was said to live in loneliness and without love. If it did not get what it want, it will become agitated and curse whatever that has cross its mind into stone. Because of this ability, the people in Langkawi are afraid of it and stay away from this Sang Gedembai.


One day, a commotion breakout between Mat Raya and Mat Cincang during a wedding party. During the commotion, skillet, pots and pans were thrown flying hundreds of kilometres. This commotion has disturbed the Sang Gedembai and it became agitated. Consequently Sang Gedembai cursed Mat Raya and Mat Cincang to be two mountains.


Until today stones in the forms of human family; i.e. a couple with three children can be found in Gua Cerita. There are also utensils such as bed, table, pots and pans in the Gua Cerita. However many of these artefact were sabotaged by visitors. The Langkawi people also believe that there is a foot print of Sang Gedembai in Tuba Island.


The disappearance of sang Gedembai is believed to be related to Garuda, a type of gigantic bird. It was told that this Garuda want to make Gua Cerita its palace. So, Garuda also possess magical power. Finally, Garuda was successful in expelling Sang Gedembai from the cave. Since then, Sang Gedembai was nowhere to be seen.


Other version of story told was related to Nabi Sulaiman in this region. It was believed that all creatures must respect and subject to Nabi Sulaiman. But Sang Gedembai felt that it is more powerful that Nabi Sulaiman, so it put a curse on Nabi Sulaiman to become a stone but the magic failed. Sang Gedembai flee to other world after the incident.


The Return Of Sang Gedembai?


Just recently people in Peninsula Malaysia were disturbed by the discovery of humanlike creature but with much larger and higher physique, with thick hair and live in the jungle. This creature did not disturb local folks as it is extremely shy and try its best to avoid the general public. Some people think this creature is ‘Bigfoot’. However the aborigines said the creature is a “Hantu Hutan”. The Indian said the creature is ‘Hanuman’. The Malays think this creature is a jinn or Gedembai. There are people said that Sang Gedembai is a human cursed by his own black magic practices.


At Batu Maung, Penang Island, footprint measuring 33 inches found was said to be the footprint of Sang Gedembai. The same footprint was said to be found in Bayan Lepas, Pulau Jerejak and Pulau Aman. According to the narration of old folks, the footprint of Gedembai were produced while Sang Gedembai was startled seeing the movement of bamboo leaves while consuming bamboo shoot. It thought that other giants wanted to harm it. So it stamps his right foot forcefully onto the ground to jump away; hence the footprint.


In view of many footprints of Gedembai existed since the existence of human inheritance; various races have their own interpretation of these footprints according to individual belief. This phenomenon is what makes a multicultural society interesting.


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