Monday, October 5, 2015

Taboos For Kids Against Spirits (儿童辟邪禁忌)

There are still many old Malay taboos for kids as they are believed to be vulnerable to spirit disturbances. If the adults are not careful, their kids may be abducted by a type of spirits locally known as ‘orang bunian’. Below are some of the taboos I learnt from my Malay friends:

Taboo 1:
No kids are allowed to play hide and seek between 7pm to 9pm. It is believed that during this time, spirits are most active and if kids stumble into mischievous spirits, they may be abducted by these spirits and may be gone forever.

Taboo 2:
Never leave the kids alone. They should always be accompanied by adults. Obviously this taboo remains true till today for safety reasons. Kids can even be drowned in bathtub.

Taboo 3:
Some ash should be applied at toddler or kid’s face. It is believed that spirits especially the ‘orang bunian’ like clean and cute kids, so if a kid looks dirty; the spirits will leave him/her alone. This is in line with Chinese belief that a kid would be difficult to bring up if he/she is given a beautiful name, hence the name ‘Ah Kow’ meaning ‘the dog’. This is not meant to humiliate the kid but to ‘hint’ to the spirits around as not to be too jealous of this kid and that the spirits would leave the kid to grow healthily.

Taboo 4:
When a baby is newly born, its umbilical cord must be wrapped with a piece of black cloth. The umbilical cord would attract malicious spirits such as the ‘hantu penangal’,

Taboo 5:
A mother should chew some ‘kunyit bolai’ or Zingiber Cassumunar roots and then spit it all over the room where her baby sleeps. The smell of kunyit bolai shall chase away spirits and deter new ones from visiting at night. More on 'kunyit bolai':

Taboo 6:
Avoid letting kids playing a far from the house during strong wind. Traditionally, strong breeze is associated with the working of spirits. Some local Chinese believe that if one shouts aloud when strong wind is blowing, his/her mouth would become askew and numb.

Taboo 7:
Kids should be forbidden from going to seaside during high tide. This is obviously due to safety aspects, now or then.

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