The existence of Nyi Roro Kidul is very famous, not only for Yogyakarta and Surakarta, but the entire Java, either Central, West or East Java. In Yogyakarta, Nyi Roro Kidul tale is always related to Kings of Mataram. And in East Java especially in southern of Malang, especially in Ngliyep beach, Nyi Roro Kidul is called as Kanjeng Ratu Kidul. And there are few versions about legend of this southern sea queen.
Folk Tale from Yogyakarta
Once upon a time, lived a beautiful girl, her name was Kadita or Dewi Srengenge, daughter of King Munding Wangi. Though he had a beautiful daughter, he was sad because he wanted a son. Later the king married again with Dewi Mutiara, and he got a son from that marriage. The King was so happy.
Dewi Mutiara wanted his son to be a king in the fi=uture, and she tried to make her wish came true. Dewi Mutiara saw the king and asked his daughter to leave the palace. The king refused and said that that was ridicules and he would not let anyone did bad things to his daughter. Dewi Mutiara smiled and said nice words that the king was not angry anymore. BUt in her heart, she had a plan for the beautiful princess.
One morning, before the sun rose, Dewi Mutiara sent her servant to call a witch. And she asked the witch to make the beautiful princes to have skin disease. MIdnight, Kadita had skin desease and it yield a very bad smell. The princess cried the whole night.
When the king heard about his daughter, he was sad and he called doctors to heal her. He realized that his daughter was sick of non logical cause, that someone has send this black magic to his daughter. It was became more complicated when Dewi Mutiara asked king to get the princess out of the palace. She said that the princess is a disgrace to the country. The king did not want his daughter became gossip to the kingdom, so he was finally sent his daughter out of the kingdom.
The princess was alone and did not know where to go. She had a good heart that she was not angry to her step mother. She prayed that God will help her in her bad time like those days.
Almost seven days and seven nights she walked and finally she arrived at southern sea with its blue clean water. She jumped and swam. Surprisingly, when the ocean water touched her skin, the disease was gone and it was not itchy as before, and she became more beautiful instead. And she became elf living in southern sea of Java as Nyi Roro Kidul forever.
Babad Tanah Jawi
In Babad Tanah Jawi (19th Century), a prince from Pajajaran, Joko Suruh, met an ascetic and ordered him to find Majapahit Kingdom in East Java. And as the ascetic was a beautiful woman, Joko Suruh fell in love with her. The ascetic was the aunt of him, Ratna Suwinda, and she for sure rejected him. When she was young, Ratna Suwinda was exiled herself on a hill and then she went to southern ocean of Java and became spiritual ruler there. She said to the prince that if the prince descendant became the rulers of located nearby My Merapi, she would marry the descendants.
The next generations, panembahan Senopati, the founder of Mataram Kingdom II, exiled himself at the southern sea to fight against kingdom from southern part of Java. His meditation was attracting Kanjeng Ratu Kidul and she promised to help him. For 3 days 3 nights, he learned war strategy in her underwater palace. Since then, Ratu Kidul was always related to Senopati’s descendants and offerings were dedicated to her annually by Surakarta and Yogyakarta palace representative.
Though for you maybe this legend is just a fiction, people in Yogyakarta believe her existence and that it is a real phenomenon related with the existence of Keraton Yogyakarta.And it was written in Babad Tanah Jawi. But what kind of relations between them?
In a book Ratu Kidul, Argo Twikromo wrote that people is traditional community that accentuated harmony, conformity, and balance of life. And that life is inherent to environment, and that comprehending nature is important to do.
As a two ways communication with environment, Javanese has strong power and uses symbol to accentuate. If connected to invisible entity, Javaism recognizes entities like ruler of Gunung Merapi, Gunung Lawu, Kayangan nDeplin, and Southern sea queen.As they are in Java, King should communicate with them.
According to Twikromo, for Java kings communicating to Ratu Kidul is a spiritual power in managing the country. As invisible supernatural power, Kanjeng Ratu Kidul should be noticed for permission in daily activities for people safety and peace.
The belief in Ratu Kidul is accentuated well in various event such as labuhan. Labuhan is keraton traditional event held at southern sea, of Yogyakarta, held every birthday of Sultan, according to Javanese calendar. This ritual was aimed to get prosperity for Sultan and people of Yogyakarta.
Other manifestation of belief in Ratu Kidul is Bedaya Lambangsari dance and Bedaya Semang dance that are performed to honor and commemorate the queen of the south. Under water building was also built in the palace of Yogyakarta in related with Ratu Kidul and Kings relationship. That building is called as Sumur Gumuling, located 1 km west of Keraton Yogyakarta complex and it was meeting point of kings of Yogya and the queen.
Keraton Surakarta also has same belief in Kanjeng Ratu Kidul myth. In Babad Tanah Jawi was mentioned that Kanjeng Ratu Kidul promised Panembahan Senopati , the founder of Mataram Kingdom, to take care of Mataram, all sultans, keraton family and people from disaster. As both keraton have same root, Mataram, Surakarta palace also honor the queen of the south. One of their honor is by performing Bedaya Ketawang dance, sacred performance in king coronation. This dance is performed by 9 dancers wearing javanese bride costume inviting the queen to come and marry Sultan and it said that she shows herself as the 10th dancer in sparkling figure.
Belief in the southern queen also expanded to West Java. Especially in Samudra Beach Hotel, that has a special room 308 for the queen. Whoever wants to meet her can sleep in that room, but through an intermediary and various offerings. And it said that President Soekarno had stayed in this room.
Ratu Kidul legend is still alive until today, and this is one of the most spectacular legend in Indonesia. There are people that ever saw her appearance. Affandi, one of Indonesia maestro ever saw her appearance that he painted her in canvas. In few cases she was seen on picture taken at the southern sea coincidentally. In many paintings of the queen, she always wears green dress. Until today myth warn visitors of southern sea not to wear green t-shirt or green dress, as the waves would got them and drag them to sea. There are people missing in southern sea of Java, and could not be found.