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A Sarawakian legend of durian you probably never heard of

A Sarawak Gazette writer, Lee Kok Yin published an article about a durian legend that he heard when he was teaching in rural Sarawak.

Here is a legend from local Sarawakians about the King of Fruits – the durian – you probably never heard of:

King of Fruits, Durian! Credits: Pixabay.

Once upon a time, there was a poor family of eight who earned their living through farming.

The sad part was the father, who was supposed to be the head of the family, was a lazy man.

So all the work and responsibilities fell to the mother.

One day, the mother fell sick and was unable to work on the farm. Even so, the father still refused to work and continued with his lazy ways.

Slowly, the family’s food storage started getting low and their farm slowly turned into a jungle.

As she lay on her sickbed, the mother prayed to God to save her young children from starvation.

Thinking there was no hope for her to get better and being sick was a burden for her children, the mother decided to kill herself.

She then jumped into a deep pool and drowned to death.

A few nights after her death, the children dreamed that the mother told them to go to her tomb where they would find food.

When they woke up, they realised all of them had the same dream. Believing the words of their mother, they all went to her tomb.

There, they saw a tall tree bearing hundreds of thorny fruits. When they tasted the flesh of the fruit, they found it to be sweet and delicious.

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Thus, this was how durian came about.

Another meaning of liu lian or durian

The Chinese word for durian, “liu lian” also means to ‘stop and stay’. According to Lee, in the olden days, before Chinese merchants sailed to the islands of the South Seas, their wives or parents always warned them not to eat any durian.

They believed that those who once tasted its flavour, would forever stay in that foreign country.

Patricia Hului
Patricia Hului is a Kayan who wants to live in a world where you can eat whatever you want and not gain weight. She grew up in Bintulu, Sarawak and graduated from the University Malaysia Sabah with a degree in Marine Science. She worked for The Borneo Post SEEDS, which is now defunct. When she's not writing, you can find her in a studio taking belly dance classes, hiking up a hill or browsing through Pinterest. Follow her on Instagram at @patriciahului, Facebook at Patricia Hului at or Twitter at @patriciahului.

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