Saturday, June 30, 2007

Weird stuff [again]

Weekend break from answering questions. Not to worry, if you asked one, it will be answered...

Instead, today I just have to tell you about this news item that appeared in today's paper here.

A bomoh [translation: witchdoctoring con-artist] in the northern state of Kelantan was treating a Penang family for something or other. His diagnosis was that the family's problems were caused by some bad spirits or demons. He - being a skilled bomoh - caught these spirits and imprisoned them inside the trunks of banana plants, a process which included driving huge nails into the stems and then burying them in the local cemetery.

The photo below comes from the New Straits Times online page. See here
for a bigger shot and more details about the story.

Hocus pocus, you say? Of course it was. And did the the sensible people of the local village believe this tale? Of course not! They had far more sense. They rang up the local police to tell them that someone had buried space aliens in the graveyard. Which in the end resulted in the police exhuming the bodies (with hands clad in rubber gloves...just in case?)



And the bomoh? Well, he says he's not responsible for whatever happens to the Penang people now that the spirits are free. He's just got himself an out - if the patients don't improve, it's not his fault. He can blame it on the police. Who says witchdoctors aren't clever?

Fantasy is not half as weird as the stuff real people will believe...

8 comments:

Patty said...

This is a hoot! I've copied the article into my Holy Cow file and maybe some short story will come of it. Thanks for sharing.

Argus Lou said...

Be-nailed banana trunks for dead space aliens! Now that's a new one. (Er, thank the cosmos I'm not headed for Penang any time soon...) ;}

hrugaar said...

Love it! Yeah, witch-doctors have to be survivors.

It interests me that the villagers should have come up with the notion of space aliens being buried there, instead of imprisoned spirits. Kind of ties in with a blog post I did recently about aliens being used as modern day masks for the spirits and powers of older traditions.

Glenda Larke said...

Yes,I read that Hrugaar - interesting thought, and I suspect you are right. And isn't it fascinating that villagers are now more inclined to believe in aliens than demons?

hrugaar said...

Isn't it though? It implies a cultural shift, and possibly one at odds with established religion (I don't know the official Islamic line on aliens, mea culpa).

Then again, it would be interesting to know whether the villagers (in general) still believe in demons per se, but not that the quack could trap them with the aid of a few nails and a banana log.

And I do admire the police for the way they stoically don their rubber gloves and get in there ... though I wonder whether they view it as bravery in face of the unknown, or administering a cultural enema to the community.

Argus Lou said...

Hrugaar, I don't know if you're Malaysian, but I feel compelled to tell you some members of the armed forces too believe in spirits and demons. This belief is deeply entrenched amongst some Malays, Indians and Chinese (even some Eurasians give it a nod, as in "we don't know about everything out there, so let's give it a wide berth or vauge respect -- just in case...) in M'sia.

I agree the villagers' view of aliens is a fascinating shift indeed. What's next? Kampung folk believing pontianaks (long-haired vampires in Malay folklore) come from Transylvania or Romania?!

Glenda Larke said...

Argus Lou is right - being a policeman or a soldier does not automatically preclude belief in all kinds of things without the slightest shred of evidence for any of it, let alone logic.

Btw, in today's paper there was a full page on the feng shui of ...guess. Go on, guess.

Paris Hilton.

That's right, a whole page devoted to where she has been and where she is going, all because of Feng Shui. Sheesh.

hrugaar said...

As I say, I admire the police for their stoic bravery in handling the issue.

Ah, the feng shui of having stonkingly rich parents and heading for jail. Surely La Paris is the biggest argument for not following the principles. :oD