Friday, August 19, 2016

Jakarta’s Flying Coffins seen Everywhere


Whether it is kolor ijo (the green underpants), who rapes women in their sleep, or setan mukena (the prayer-robe ghost), who knocks on people’s doors at night, traditional folklore lives on in Jakarta and its satellite cities, with many of the capital’s denizens holding fast to timeless superstitions.

In recent weeks, a number of residents of the Sawangan Baru subdistrict of Depok, West Java, have been shaken by what they claim to be sightings of a flying casket, wooden and without a bearer.

The casket has been reported floating above a garden and a graveyard in the subdistrict, residents say, and some sightings have even been reported to the Depok Police.

Depok Police chief Harry Kurniawan told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday that the force had advised the people of the subdistrict to remain calm.

“We have told the residents not to be tricked by this issue, which was probably fabricated by parties with nefarious intentions. Maybe they want to exploit the situation to rob houses, for instance,” he said.

 People are scared to go out at night, said local woman Asri Nuraniyah. “Last week, some of my neighbors even planned to call a shaman to repel the casket, but our fears subsided after the police advised us to stay calm.”

Another resident, Risal Mahendra, claimed to have seen the flying casket with his own eyes while taking a walk around a cassava farm. “It was flying slowly; I was shocked and fled.”

Many people in Jakarta and its surrounding areas, especially those living in kampungs, remain deeply superstitious and readily claim to have witnessed the appearance of spiritual creatures like kuntilanak (female ghosts), pocong(shrouded ghosts) and tuyul (mischievous childlike ghosts).

One citizen tied to such beliefs is 44-year-old Ratna Kurniasih, a jewelry seller of Kalimalang, East Jakarta. “Of course [such beings] exist, they just don’t make themselves obvious. I have seen kuntilanak twice, once when I was a high-school student and once around three years ago,” Ratna told the Post on Thursday, adding that she had inherited her belief in the occult from her mother.

Social psychologist Indro Adinugroho said the continued superstition was down to tradition.

He cited the universal value theory by award-winning Israeli psychologist Shalom H. Schwartz. “According to one aspect of the theory, one will retain any hereditary cultural value one is taught. For Indonesians, this means traditional spiritualism values, which are passed down from generation to generation,” said the Atma Jaya Catholic University lecturer.

“Such belief in spiritual values is sustainable because it is accepted and internalized by the community.”

Jakarta Post

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