Travel Notes

Not long after Sidapaksha's departure, Sri Tanjung gave birth to a baby boy. The wicked mother- in-law, however, seeing an opportunity to fulfil the second part of her plan, stole the child while Sri Tanjung was bathing and cast the infant into the river which flowed nearby. Then, when Sidapaksha returned after some months, successful in his mission, she informed him that Sri Tanjung herself had murdered his son.

In anger, Sidapaksha immediately confronted his wife and demanded an explanation, threatening to kill her. Sri Tanjung, by now already weak and sick from grief, simply asked her husband to carry her to the river, where she would prove her innocence. Uncertain as to who to believe, Sidapaksha eventually agreed to his wife's request and took her to the river bank, from where she threw herself into the water and drowned. Then, a few moments later, as Sidapaksha sat in anguish on the bank, two pure white, sweet smelling flowers floated by and told him the true story, after which they vanished, leaving only their fragrance; hence the name banyu (water )), wangi( sweet smelling).
Although nowadays Blambangan is the name given to the peninsula encompassing the South Banyuwangi National Park, it was in the past a kingdom in its own right, extending almost as far as the Tengger Range and Mt Bromo. Historically, it was the last size able kingdom to withstand the pressure of Islam and did not officially convert until the 17th century. Even today this part of Java supports a fairly large Hindu community, which celebrates the traditional holidays of Nyepi, Galungan and Kuningan in much the same way as in Bali. Vestiges of the ancient culture of Blambangan can be seen in the Gandrung and Seblang dances, which are still performed, albeit in an adapted form, on ceremonial and festive occasions. The former is a classical dance in honour of Dewi Sri, Hindu goddess of fertility. Originally performed by men, the last hundred years have seen a change over to female dancers. The Seblang is a sacred dance form which is still found in the villages of Bakungan and Oleh Sari, which lie three and six kilometres respectively from Banyuwangi.

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