Monday, April 13, 2009

Types of Malay Ghosts

I have recently came across an interesting story of a pregnant Malay woman who had to ward off a fiery and fearsome Hantu Penanggalan in her sister's house.
It got me wondering, and I have stumbled across a list of Malay ghosts which I found it worth to be sharing on my blog.

Penanggal (pronounced as Pe-Nun-Gal) is a female ghost; with a very beautiful appearance which is obtained through the means of black magic or supernatural ways.
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They are also in a way, associated with the term of Devil's Disciple/Apprentice and at the same time, they are the living dead who lived among the living.
There are different versions of the origins of this Penanggal; and the following are the other versions:
1. A midwife who made a pact with the devil to gain supernatural powers and in return, she is not to eat meat for 40 days. She broke the pact and she is cursed to live forever on sucking blood.
2. A beautiful woman/high priestess who was bathing in vinegar and a man startled her, whereby she turned in such haste that she detached her head from her body; and the internals trailing from the opening at the neck and she flies after the man for revenge.

The Penanggal is typically illustrated as a flying creature with the internals trailing after her head and there is also reportedly a strong scent of vinegar with her.
The Penanggal preys on pregnant women and newborn babies; on whom she sucks the blood. She is like a banshee who appears at childbirth and she perches on the rooftop of a house in which a pregnant or expecting mother resides and screeches when the woman is in labor. She will insert a long tongue into the house to lap the blood of the new mother; and this could cause the mother to sink into weakness and inrecoverable fatigue.
Also, the entrails of her internals could cause deep wounds on whoever she brushes past and will not heal unless with the help of a bomoh.
The Penanggal is said to fear sharp objects; and to fend her off, the traditional way is to scatter the Mengkuang thorny leaves to trap her internals and at the same time, pregnant women/expectant mothers should keep scissors or betels at bay and under her pillow as the Penanggal is afraid of this.

It is somehow more commonly found in the old Malay kampung where the houses are built of wood and stands on stilts; where the Penanggal would most probably try to enter from. As such, some of the methods used were also to plant pineapples or sharp plants underneath the house to prevent the Penanggal from entering the house.

Pontianak (Porn-Tia-Nuck) is also a female ghost who died at labour and is out for revenge.
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They are also considered as one of the undead beings in the supernatural world
Pontianaks often prey on men; and they disguised themselves through the soft and gentle cries. Sometimes they do appear as very beautiful ladies to seduce their male victims as well.
According to folklore, if the cries of the Pontianak are soft, it means they are very near and if it is loud, they are far away.
A pontianak will attack their victims by ripping out the male reproductive organs.
To ward them off, the Pontianaks are also reported to be afraid of sharp objects; particularly long nails.

Langsuir; is another version of Pontianak and they are desribed as the scariest and deadliest of all. They are those who have suffered the death of their children at labor and then died themselves after, and they will possess the victim and suck their blood.
They are often described with red fiery eyes, long hair, sharp claws and long hair (similar as Pontianak).
The Langsuir was also described as one with a hole in the neck.

Hantu Pocong

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Ghosts which are wrapped in white cloth (commonly used at a traditional Malay burial/funeral). They appear to be ghosts who are trapped, and they hop around to warn people to release their bonds.
Due to the ties on their feet, they are often seen hopping around.

Kuntilanak, same as Pontianak

Typically an aborted or stillborn child or a foetus, and this ghost child appears as different versions in most of the culture.
The baby child or the foetus are often used by the bomoh through black magic to perform tasks for them; and is usually associated with stealing money/valuables from others.
The toyol is just like a child and is often depicted as one with a big head and small limbs. They are mischievous and must be fed with blood every day. The amount of blood is incremental with time; and if the owner forgets to feed it for a day, it will cause havoc or steal the owner's stuffs.
Typically, the toyol could eat of its owner eventually when its appetite grows and there is no way to satisfy it.

Hantu Galah
These are very beings which appear at a normal height in front of you, but as you approach them, they grow to be taller and taller; and they can even be as tall as a coconut tree.

Orang Minyak
Known as the oily man and his body is covered in oil while he runs around raping virgin women. There were speculations that this was actually a man in human form.

Monday, April 06, 2009

The Passion of Christ

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As we approach the Holy week which also coincidentally also ends the Lent season, it is a solemn week as we observe the last days of Jesus Christ, the only Son of God before he submits to his fate to save us all from our sins.

I felt compelled to write about this great Lord who is always present in my life; and also to share with you my insights on what he has done for us.
* Disclaimer:
Please feel free to read this without any religious obligation if you are of a different religion.

All Christians know of HIS great name, and we praise him in glory and songs.
Jesus Christ, is the only son of God, who has redeemed us from our sins and given us a new life by his sacrifice.

We proclaim him the King of ALL Kings and praise him endlessly, worshipping HIS holy name in churches and our homes.

We are so proud to know Jesus Christ and announce and accept HIM as the Son of God.

However, was it the SAME in the past, many many centuries ago; during the A.D times in the Bible?

Jesus Christ was then a living man among the people; he has descended to Earth to live among his people.
He has led a life full of good deeds, preaching to the people, healing them and comfort them in times of grief and pain.

He was so noble; and although he has won the hearts of many, he has also stirred the jealousy among those who were in power at that time.
In reality, they were also afraid of HIM, who proclaimed himself the Son of God.
They fear that they will run out of power one day and HE, will replace them on their throne.
One such ruler was Herod; who had been foretold that the Messiah would come.
He banished all the newborn boys from his Kingdom to rid his mind of the bestowing of the prophecy.

Jesus Christ was very much a human being like you and me, and various questions have been asked when we were kids and also by most of you who were not of a Christian family background.
"Had Jesus Christ ever sinned?"

We have been led to understand that Jesus had never sinned; although he had been tempted so many times throughout HIS lifetime.
BUT Jesus Christ is a MAN with emotions and I personally remembered the story particularly when he was a young boy of 12, and he was so angered by the sight of all the people selling things in the Temple of God that he lost his temper and threw all the things to the ground.

That was one of the time that I could relate that Jesus was very much like us, as young teenager, who could be angry as well.

People then were so skeptical of him as the Son of God and even those, who initially believed in him, then turned away from him in times of distress or when they were influenced by others.

HE knew his Mission on earth, and what he had to fulfill of HIS father's will and per the scriptures.
At the same time, do you think that he had not had his moments of fear, anxiety and doubt?

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It was depicted in the last moments after the Passover meal/Last Supper with his apostles/disciples.
It was heart-wrenching that he even knew about the betrayal by one of his closest ones.
Mark 14:20 And He said to them, "It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.
They were not just followers, but they were like brothers.

If you have felt the pains of betrayal before, you would understand the feeling of despair and that was exactly how Jesus felt on the night of the last supper; which was his final meal with all his apostles.

Mark 14:21 "For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

It was already fated that Jesus had to face his fate, and to submit to his Father's Will, but alas, HE was more disappointed in the one who had chosen to betray him.
After all, whether he was betrayed or not, HE would still be leaving for his awaiting fate.
It was painful that in the process, HE had to be given away by them.

Imagine if it was any of us, knowing what our fate awaits us in front, would you be happy or worried at this point of time?
Jesus was feeling the same and HE brought all 12 with HIM to the Mount of Olives, where he prayed for strength and courage during his last hours.
At the same time, Judas Iscariot (who was the one to betray Jesus) was leading the soldiers, chief priests and the whole lot to hand Jesus over to them.

Jesus was also sad when he found most of his disciples sleeping.
Their willpower was weak, and HE was worried about them.
Peter was the One who assured Jesus that he will always be by HIS side, and he will never leave Jesus.

However, Jesus even knew that Peter would not be able to do that
Simon Peter said, “Lord, where are you going?”
Jesus replied, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now; you will follow me later.”
Peter said to him, “Why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
“Lay down your life for me?” answered Jesus.
“I tell you most solemnly, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.”

When Judas brought the soldiers, he made a secret signal pact with them that the one he walked up to kiss will be Jesus.
Jesus was arrested and HE was betrayed by his trusted apostles' kiss!

It was then the beginning of his torturous ordeal when he was mocked and taunted by the soldiers.
HE was brought to Pilate who found no case against him, but yet all the chief priests and scribes threw false accusations at him to which Jesus did not defend himself.

(I'm sure most of us would have screamed in agony at false accusations and yell Bloody Murder!)

Pilate tried to release him but he was pressured by his people to release Barabbas instead, as they wanted Jesus who called himself the Son of God dead, yelling all the way, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him"

Pilate succumbed to their request to please them.
It was another show of weak willpower.

Jesus was then humiliated as they stripped him naked and even casted lots to divide his clothing.
He was continuously whipped and was even given a crown with thorns which those cruel soldiers thrusted onto his head.
He is a man, remember, imagine the excruciating pain he had to go through.

I could not bear to think how much he had to go through; it was all so much pain and humiliation!
HE was the Son of God, and nobody refused to believe him.

Even the 2 prisoners who were to be crucified with him made fun of him,
"If you were the Son of God, why don't you save yourself and us??"

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He had to carry his own cross to Golgotha (The Skull), and remember, he had all those fresh wounds on his back and all over his body.
He is already weak and fragile; frankly, it really pained me to imagine the amount of pain and the scourging and the crown of thorns were already so much pain that it could have killed a human being instantly.

Jesus still stood up weakly and carried his wooden cross, which he fell several times along the way.
OF COURSE, imagine if you had deep cuts after the scourging and whipping, would you still be able to walk straight??

He was bleeding all over and yet they were so cruel to HIM!!

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Frankly, whether HE is the Son of God or not (where the people did not believe HIM), I still think they were really inhuman to do something like that to another human being.

I break down and cry when I read about this; and I definitely could not watch the Passion of Christ.

He was NAILED to the cross; to be crucified to HIS death.
I can tell you, if you felt the pain when a needle or a sharp object goes through the palms of your hands, imagine if a BIG nail went through it!

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It really made me shudder to my bone and the sadness crept in when I thought of how he suffered during his last hours.

Clouds have darkened and the veil of the temple has broken into two before Jesus breathed his last.
He cried so loudly, "Eloi, Eloi, La Mech Sabathani?? (My God, Why have you forsaken me?)"

It is a clear depiction that even Jesus are like us, in times of despair and pain, will call out to God (furthermore, it is HIS father) to ask for help.
He knew his fate and his Father's will, but yet, he must have been so much in pain that he wished HIS father would be there for him and take it all way from him.

With that, he breathed his last.

Imagine, HE suffered so much for ALL of us, for our redeem us and to give us another chance of a NEW Life.

It showed how much GOD loved us that HE wanted us to live by sacrificing HIS one and ONLY son.
It was painful and yet, it was also the greatest mysteries that we marvel at.
We praise the Almighty God to the highest and we sing of Jesus in songs of glory and praise.

We are now here today because of this CHANCE.

Had we been reciprocating and remembered what GOD wanted of us?

Do we invite God into our lives and live the way God wanted us to?
Do we hurt other people or do we listen to God, We must love one another?

Sinners were redeemed by Jesus Christ's blood - the amount of blood which cannot be measured by any standard of his wonderful LOVE for us.
He Suffered and bear everything because he WANTED us to live...

Jesus never refute his Father's will because he LOVED us...

ARE We worthy of HIS LOVE?
Will anyone else do something like that for us?

We always claim that we could die for each other when we are in love, but how many are really willing to go to that lengths (the same humiliation and pain that Jesus went through for us?)

Yet, we seem to have lost ourselves in this materialistic world and care more about those material things that we have lost track of being with God.
Some of us don't even remember God, one hour of prayer is often reciprocated with "I am too busy today"

We can spend hours chatting with our friends/family/boyfriend/girlfriend on the hour or in the lounge, but one hour to talk to God is not something achievable.

We can spend money buying a new suit for a company's formal function or an event, but we do not even waste time/money to dress up when we go to church or to attend the FEAST of God

I could think of many more, but the fundamental is I do not want to be judgmental.
It must come from our hearts...

Is GOD worth your time after all he has done for you?

We are not perfect people; neither are we God or living saints, and we may not be totally sinless.
But the very least is we can stop and think before we do something and ask ourselves, "Is this something that God would want me to do? Is this something that God himself would do?"

Remember, Jesus died for our sin, if we were to sin, it is just like squeezing salt or lime/lemon juice onto his wounds....

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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Thus begins the HOLY WEEK....

I am sure most Catholics around the world has participated in Palm Sunday yesterday; which is always the significant day in the Lent season approaching Easter.
It is the Sunday before Easter and is also the initial point to marking the beginning of the HOLY Week after almost a month of abstinence and fast during the Lent season.

Why is Palm Sunday so important in the calendar and what is the significance of it to the whole celebration?

Well, the reason why Palm Sunday is significant and how it relates to beginning the whole Holy Week is due to the significant entry of Jesus Christ; which was a triumphant one into Jerusalem to face his fate and it is also the days before his Passion.

Palms were often associated with triumph and victory in the Jewish tradition and thus so, to mark the entry of Jesus Christ.

When the Holy Week begins, we participate and observe the honorary Passion of Christ; and together we pray and reflect on ourselves.