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Mahligai Keloyang, The Origin of Kelayang

Riau - Indonesia
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Kelayang is the name of sub-district in Indragiri Hulu district, Riau province, Indonesia. There was a village named Keloyang. Its name stem from Keloyang pond. Once upon time, there was a pond visited often by a group of flying fairies from heaven. In every full moon, those fairies came to the pool for cleaning their bodies. One time, a Datuk (Tribe leader) named Datuk Sakti from Indragiri Kingdom walked along the downstream of Keruh River (present Indragiri River) to inspect the condition of his poeple. Being tired of long walking, he took rest for a while under a tree nearby the Loyang pond. All of sudden, a group of flying fairies downed from the heaven to the earth for taking bath in the pond. Datuk Sakti became completely speechless as he saw the beauty of those fairies. Came across his mind to take one of them as his wife. Many attempts were made by Datuk Sakti for making his dream realized. But at the end, they separated and became no longer a couple. What were his attempts? How come he broke the relationship with his dreamed fairy? Find out more in the story of Mahligai Keloyang below.


Indragiri Kingdom was a prosperous Kingdom. At a time, Indragiri entered into glorious era in which its economic development was very fast. Its capital where all kingdom`s activities took place was in Japura (it was originally Rajapura). The people of Indragiri Kingdom lived in peace, secure and wealthy. The Datuks ruled their people justly and showed exemplary behavior for them.

One day, a Datuk named Datuk Sakti walked alongside Indragiri River (At the time, its name was Keruh River). As his habitual, he always checked the condition of the people he ruled.

Before the sun disappeared, Datuk Sakti climbed a hill searching for a resting place. He entered through a jungle nearby the river. Then, he arrived at a pond whose water was as clean, fresh and clear as loyang. Spending some times under a big tree, he was amazed by the coming of charming fairies flying from the sky. Again, he rubbed his eyes with his hand making sure of not dreaming. “Amazing, what a stunning girls. Do I dream?” mumbled Datuk Sakti, wiping his sweat on his forehead. “Oh, I am pretty sure, it is absolutely not a dream or my only imagination” whispered to himself to ensure that all in front of him was a real. And his guess was right, what he saw was a group of stunning ladies.   

Behind the tree, Datuk Sakti peeped at those fairies taking off their shining dresses and putting them just beside the pond. “Wow, they have slim shape of body” stated Datuk Sakti astonishingly.    

The fairies, feeling unnoticed by anyone, took bath cheerfully, making some jokes and singing a song with their lovely sound. Like musical instruments emitting different tones, their sounds drowned the hearer into deep sea of imagination. The fresh water of pond reflected soft light of the sun to its surrounding.    

When the night came, they rushed to finish their bath. Each of them took on  his dresses and flied in a flash to the heaven beyond the blue sky. Datuk Sakti was amazed by looking at them. ”What a lucky man if I can get one of them and marry her” thought Datuk Sakti wrinkling his forehead.

Plunged in his deep thought about the way to catch one of the fairies, he sat for a long time. “Bingo…” Suddenly he opened his eyes widely. As the fairies would come in the next full moon, Datuk Sakti  only could pray to his God for meeting them again. “The pray will change the palm and destiny outlined by God” thought Datuk Sakti. He performed fasting for seven days, washed his body with water mixed with lemon for seven days and nights. He believed this ritual could clean him from bad spirit.      

At the next full moon, Datuk Sakti rushed to the Loyang pond where the flying fairies took bath. He hid beyond the dense bushes. He walked to it slowly to avoid being noticed. “Hmmm, I should walk slowly. They will be afraid knowing someone else being here. If they found me, my long dream will be in vain” he said. Datuk was right, just before the afternoon, the sky lightened accompanying the coming of those fairies. As usual, they took off their dress, put it in the river bank and jumped into the pond gladly. While doing so, they didn`t see Datuk moving stealthily toward the bank and stealing one of the dresses.      

When the day became dark, the fairies took their dresses. However, one of them didn`t find her. Unfortunately, The other could do nothing as before mid night they should be in heaven. Thus, alone in the earth, she was left by other. Feeling sad, she cried quietly. Her sad voice touched one`s heart who heard it. 

Few minutes after, Datuk Sakti appeared from his hiding place, coming closer to the poor fairy. “Hey beautiful woman, what on earth makes you crying?” accosted Datuk Sakti. “Mister, if you figure out whereabout my shawl, please let me know it” answered the fairy with his lower voice. 

Datuk Sakti took the shawl out from his back, saying “I will give it back to you, but in one condition, to accept my proposal to marry you”. Smilingly she replied “Ye, I do. I will accept it but with one condition. You should never tell other about my story, my origin, and who I am. If you violate this agreement, it means divorce”. Thinking for a while, he accepted the agreement as he considered it was an easy task to keep it secret. “All right, I am in. I Agree and will remember my promise to keep your previous life” answered Datuk Sakti. Then, together with the fairy, Datuk Sakti came back to his home.

Time passed, they married and lived happily. Soon after, the fairy gave birth, a son and a daughter. Those children grew with the parents. Datuk Sakti trained his son the skill of fighting, hunting, trading, and sailing. The fairy taught the daughter skill on weaving, cooking, doing daily chores and planting paddies. 

Datuk Sakti`s family was a perfect family. All praised him and were awe of his wife`s beauty, behavior, and refinement. Datuk Sakti was also proud of his wife. However, he told the story of his wife who was a fairy coming from the heaven. He caught her in Loyang pond. He told it without being realized what he said.     

Hearing the story of Datuk Sakti, on every full moon, many people came to throng around the bank nearby the Loyang pond. They fought each other for taking a space in dense bush waiting for the coming of fairies. But their attempts were always in vain as the fairies never came back to the pond since the incident.

Knowing that Datuk Sakti couldn`t keep his promise, the fairy became sad and angry. While crying he took his shawl. “Since our secret has been discovered, I will back to the heaven. Please, take care of our children so that grew and became good person. God bye my dear” the fairy said to her family, walked outside house and flied to the sky. Since then, she never showed her face and disappeared forever.

Regretting on what have been done, Datuk Sakti was sad but everything was too late. At the end, he had chosen  his destiny. Then he should take care of his children very well. Both became a handsome man and a beautiful lady, and well mannered. Datuk Sakti and his children always went to the Loyang pond, for remembering their beloved one. They prayed to God for blessing her with His affection.    

Since then, the location where they lived was named Keloyang. Its name was derived from word Kolam Loyang. Now, the village is known as Kelayang, a sub-district in Indragiri Hulu District, Riau province, Indonesia. Kelayang is administratively a sub-district under the regulation of the Republic of Indonesia No 33 of 1995. Besides, there is an area named Kelayang under Kelayang sub-district. 

Till now, the local government of Indragiri Hulu issued a policy to preserve and protect Loyang pond since the pond is an icon for the society living in the region.


References :

  • Adapted from Mahyudin Al Mudra dan Tuti Sumarningsih. Mahligai Keloyang: Asal Mula Nama Kelayang. Yogyakarta: Balai Kajian dan Pengembangan Budaya Melayu with Adicita Karya Nusa, 2005.
  • Elmustian Rahman. Cerita Rakyat Indragiri Hulu: Mahligai Keloyang dan Sejumlah Cerita Lainnya. Pekanbaru: Unri Press, 2003
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