Joko Bandung’s curse – Legend of Sewu temple (Indonesian Folk Tales – 8)

The Curse of Joko Bandung

A long time ago, there were two kingdoms, Pengging and Prambanan. They were always at war with each other! Pengging’s king – Joko Bandung was a skilled martial artist and fought bravely. Prambanan’s king – Prabhu Boko – had employed a giant named Bandawasa to fight for him.

After a fierce fight, Joko Badung killed Bandawasa and joined his spirit to his own. Joko Badung’s strength increased manifold. He killed Prabhu Boko and crushed Prambanan’s army in no time.

Soon, he took the king’s throne in Prambanan. He sent a message to Prabhu Boko’s beautiful daughter – Roro Jonggrang – demanding that she become his wife. Roro Jonggrang had no such intention, however she knew that she had to play safe with Joko Bandung. She put forwad a condition for marriage. She said that she will marry Joko Bandung, provided he built one thousand temples in Yogyakarta, in a single night.

Joko Bandung readily agreed. He had several spirits and genies in his possession. For him, this was a minor task. His genies set to work immediately.

One after the other, the temples rose. Roro Jonggrang was watching the work in progress from her room. She was really worried now. She knew that she had to think fast, if she had to escape. She just could not let them complete the given task.

Finally, she had an idea. She called her maids and asked them all to start grinding rice in mortars. This made a lot of noise. They also lit fires at her instruction to brighten the place.

Her trick worked! The noise and the light woke the roosters and they crowed together. The night spirits and genies of Joko Bandung heard the roosters’ crowing and went back to sleep again.

The work wasn’t finished yet. Joko Bandung was confused. But when the sun rose much later, he understood that Roro Jonggrang had played a trick to escape the marriage.

He became angry and cursed Roro Jonggrang to turn into a statue. He left the statue standing and left the palace.

The temples built by the spirits stand to this day and people call them by the name “Sewu” temples (picture). The temple at Prambanan had been renamed to Roro Jonggrang Temple.

– Compiled and edited by Elan (2012)

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