Situ Bagendit is a name of a lake near Garut. A beautiful lake at Banyuresmi sub-district, four kilometers north of Garut, to be precise.
There is a story about what to be believed transpired in this lake years ago, when the lake was actually a village. This legend began with the richest person in the village: a widow named Nyi Bagendit a.k.a. Nyi Endit. [Nyi or Nyai is referred to an important social status of a woman].
Why would be a name of a widow become a legend? Here is the story ...
When her husband passed away, Nyi Bagendit did not only inherit his wealth, but also his occupation: a loan shark. He easily lent some money to the villagers with a steep interest rate and demanded their rice fields as the collateral. He repossessed the collateral whenever the borrower couldn't pay. That's how he became richer and richer. Nyi Bagendit continued his practice upon his passing.
Although Nyi Bagendit had become the richest person in that village, she didn't feel satisfied. She was well known to be a very stingy person. She was very fond of her wealth, especially her jewelry. Her only satisfaction was to gloat over them. Her biggest fear was the villagers would ask for her charity, because she didn't like to part with her wealth, not in the slightest bit.
One day Nyi Bagendit had a great harvest. She hired villagers to harvest her vast paddy fields. When they finished, she celebrated the harvest by providing a feast for those hired hands. But being stingy, there wasn't enough food for them all.
When there wasn't any food left, an old man came. He looked poor, his shoulder hunched and he used a stick to support him walking. He asked for some food.
Being an arrogant and stingy self, Nyi Bagendit got angry with the old man. She told him to get lost. In her opinion, he didn't deserve any food because he didn't work for her.
All of a sudden water was spouting from the hole made by the stick. Since the water couldn’t be stopped, people fled in panic. They run to save their own lives.
True to herself, the first thing Nyi Bagendit did was to save her precious wealth. She was so busy collecting them all, she didn’t realize the water had gradually submerged her house. She kept screaming for help, but nobody there to help her. Everybody had left the village and took refuge at the higher land. In the end Nyi Bagendit drowned hugging her precious belongings.
The water kept going until the whole village was submerged. It became a lake and it was named Situ Bagendit [Situ is a Sundanese word for a lake].
Some people say until this day sometimes they see a huge creature as big as a matress, that looks like a leech lies on the bottom of Situ Bagendit. They believe that giant leech is Nyi Bagendit who is still protecting her precious belongings.
Since this folklore is told verbally many times over, each storyteller might add his/her own version creating several versions of the story. But the essence is still the same: a greedy, selfish, stingy widow who was drowned since she prioritize her possessions above anything else, including her own life.
Situ Bagendit is a beautiful and tranquil lake near Garut. Garut is also known for its hot springs and Cangkuang temple. Check them out :)