Monday, April 6, 2015

Some Malaysian Fishermen Lores (大马渔民禁忌)

I have a few friends living in Sepatang, Taiping. Sepatang is a fishing village in the state of Perak which is also famous of its seafood restraints.

There are some taboos that old Chinese fishermen would not break in the past, may be these taboos are a thing of the past, but it is fun just to run over some of them before they are forgotten in time.

Once I was having lunch with a friend in his kelong (fish farm) when he served me fresh Barramundi (siakap) fish. You know that having fresh steamed fish harvested and cook there and then is an unforgettable experience as the fish meat is so tender with a little hardness; which is unlike the texture of fish in the market…

Okay, let’s go back to the story proper. Just as we were finishing one side of the siakap fish, I tried to flip the fish sideway. But I was stopped by my friend as he said that it would be a very bad omen to a fisherman as this may indicate the turning of a ship sideways. So, the correct way is to flip the fish from head to tail lengthwise. According to my pal, it is quite unlikely to have a ship taking a somersault at sea.

Fishing at sea at night is adventurous business as not only the weather condition can at times be unpredictable, hazards such as accidents, ship collisions and pirates are also frequently taking place at high sea. Also at times one may also met with ghosts at sea. My pal said that he had several times that when he was fishing at the aft of the boat; he saw a black shadow sitting at the bow of his ship. He told me that that was the ghost of someone who has drowned in the region and that the only resting place for these lost souls of the sea are fishing boats. So, it is best just to leave these spirits alone as they shall be gone when the day breaks. Some of his friends even sworn that they have seen flying head hovering on their boats and even fish farms.

Many times when my pal sees a black shadow on his fishing boat, he knows that there may be someone drowning in the vicinity. Because normally a day after the sighting, my pal would pick up a floating body. When a dead body is found, no fisherman should ignore this poor body as this is the request of the deceased to the living that he wanted to go home. So, this fisherman should stop all his fishing activity and bring the body home. If it is not for humanitarian, ignoring the dead body would also cause no fish to be harvested for that day.

I have also learnt that fishermen at certain place would not consume some type of fish. For example some Hong Kong fishermen do not eat carps due to their religious belief. Also some fishermen in Vietnam don’t eat fish caught in their area because they believe that those fishes are the reincarnation of their ancestors. I have not ventured to find out if the above are true or otherwise, or perhaps the stories are true in old days; not now.

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