The Legend of Banyuwangi. Hi my beloved visitor! Have you ever gone to Banyuwangi ? It is located at the eastern-most end of the Indonesian island of Java and it is a very strategic area for those who want to go to Bali, as it serves as an important ferry port between Java and Bali. It is surrounded by mountains and forests to the west; by sea to the east and south. Banyuwangi is only separated by Strait of Bali from Bali. The name of Banyuwangi is Javanese for “fragrance water”, connected to the Javanese folklore of Sri Tanjung.
How is the story of Banyuwangi or “fragrance water” can be read from the following story.
A long time ago, the island of java was ruled by a king. The King had a Loyal Prime Minister whose name was Sidapaksa. He had a beautiful wife. Her name was Sri Tanjung. He loved her very much although she was from a village. However, his mother did not like her. Sidapaksa’s mother did not agree with his son’s lover. Apparently, his mother hated her because Sri Tanjung was not an aristocrat. It is a very important status in her society. But Sidapaksa did not care about his future wife status and married her. A couple months after the marriage, Sri Tanjung got pregnant. They were very happy waiting for the child birth.
One day in the morning, the king Sindurejo called patih Sidapaksa. He ordered his patih to search for a bud of a magic flower at Mount Ijen for his queen. The flower was believed could make younger the person who bathed with it. The assignment from the king was so important and urgent therefore, Sidapaksa had to go to Mount Ijen, left his pregnant wife and his mother for couple of months.
Meanwhile the baby’s birth was getting closer. Sri Tanjung stayed with her mother in law. When the baby boy was born, her mother in law helped her took care the baby. The reason she did that was not that she cared about her grandson. Instead, she wanted to get rid of the child and his mother.
And that night must be a very misfortune night from all Sri Tanjung’s nights. She went to a bath and left the baby in the room. Her mother in law entered the room. When she saw the baby slept, her evil’s mind was working. Slowly and carefully, she took the baby and brought him to the river. Without thinking any further, at the edge of the river, she threw the baby. The crying of the baby did not change her mind. The water was so fast. It drowned the baby and made his voice silent just in a few second.When Sri Tanjung finished her bath, she was shocked knowing her baby was gone. She look for everywhere for the baby but she could not find him. She felt powerless in her room thinking about her baby. When her mother in law came home, the mother pretended knew nothing about it.
Two years passed and Sidapaksa returned from his journey. He succeeded in doing his duty. Just as he was about to enter his house, his mother was standing. When she saw Sidapaksa arrived, she ran to him and cried. She said, “Oh my son, I am sorry. I am useless. I couldn’t stop your wife killing the baby.”
“What? Why she did that?” Sidapaksa yelled.
“She was afraid that you found out that the baby was not your son,” she explained.
Sidapaksa was very angry. He felt like got a stroke by lightning in the middle of the day. He went to the house looking for his wife. When he entered his room, he saw his wife was sleeping. He woke her up and dragged her out the room. Sri Tanjung was surprised knowing her husband came home with anger. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“Ah, wicked women. Tell me why you threw our new-born child into the river. Tell me” he said in a rough and angry voice.
“Oh, my dearest husband. I am innocent. I love you, and our baby. I didn’t kill our child. If you don’t believe me, carry me to the river. I will prove that I didn’t do it,” replied his wife calmly.
“You’re having affair and killed the baby.” Sidapaksa accused her. His hand pointed his keris to his wife.
“For the sake of Gods, I did not having affair and killed the baby.” She argued.
“I don’t believe you,” Sidapaksa said. He dragged her wife to the river and said, “You threw him to the river”.
“I did not do those things,” Sri Tanjung kept her argue. But it seemed she could not persuade her husband anymore. So she said” if you don’t believe me, you can kill me and throw my body to the river. If the water smells fragrant, it means I am innocent. Let Gods be my witnesses”.
Sidapaksa stabbed his keris to her chest until she died then he threw her body to the river. But strangely, the water did not turn to red and smell fishy when her blood got in to it. Instead, the blood cleaned the river and smelt fragrant. Sidapaksa was shocked and yelled like a crazy person” Wangi.. banyu.. wangi.. banyu.. wangi..”. It means “fragrant.. water.. fragrant.. water.. fragrant..”. Suddenly in the middle of river, two flowers showed up, the big ones and the small ones. The big flower was incarnation of Sri Tanjung and the small flower was incarnation of her baby. Then the small one talked to Sidapaksa” Father, I am your son. My mother was innocent. Grandmother drowned me to this river. Now I’m happy because my beloved mother has come with me,”. Then, the two flowers vanished into the water. They left their fragrance behind. Sidapaksa felt stood. He realized he had made a huge mistake. However, his wife and his child would never live again. And he could only cry and regret.
After the incident, the area around the river called banyuwangi. In Javanese language, banyuwangi means fragrant water.