By Alifah Zainuddin, BENL
More than 500 students and staff from IIUM and guests from other varsities filled the Main Auditorium earlier this week for the sold-out staging of Ulek: Suatu Ciretera Mistik.
The play, an adaptation of the popular local Ulek Mayang tradition found in Terengganu, was the brainchild of IIUM Poetry Club, in collaboration with Castaways Production House.
Co-founder of Castaways Production House, Siti Sazarin Pet, said that the tradition was selected to promote the beauty of Malay culture whose traditions are rich with dances and poetry.
Ulek Mayang is an ancient tale about a sea-princess who fell in love with a fisherman.
The princess abducts the fisherman’s soul, leaving his body unconscious. His friends beseeched a local bomoh to heal him. When the bomoh conducted the healing ritual to bring the fisherman’s soul back, the princess appeared and responded by calling on five of her sisters to her aid.
The battle between the bomoh and the six princesses continued until the seventh and the eldest princess appeared and put an end to it.
The folklore dates back to the fifteenth century during a time when Islamic revival movements were at its early stages in Tanah Melayu. The battle between Islam and age-old cultural practices and beliefs prevailed during that time.
Sazarin said that the play acted as a social critique on the Malay faith where, despite the establishment of Islam, superstitious beliefs and bomoh practices are still rampant in today’s modern society.
Sazarin went on further to explain that the play called for us, as a society, to ponder upon our faith.
Also in attendance at the event were representatives from IIUM’s International Islamic Cultural Centre (CITRA).