Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I've been asked to be on the celeb panel for yahoo malaysia's question and answer board. So for those who missed it during that period; here was the question posed and the best answer that I chose.

Being involved with so many 'pantang larangs' for the past few weeks, this question posed to be quite apt.

Here it goes!
(do give me your 2 pence worth!)

Daphne Iking: Why do superstitions play such an important part in our lives, despite often being illogical?


Most superstitions have their roots in at least semi-logical behaviors. Walking under a ladder, for example, is always a bad idea. As is breaking a mirror, often the only piece of glass in ancient homes (it would take seven years to clean up, and you'd probably be cut every time you tried). "Black" or any other color of cat was probably crossing your path in its hunt for a rat, and rats carried plague. Food restrictions once made some sense, too (and often still do). Pork, for example, was notorious for carrying trichinosis, and shellfish---especially from warmer waters---all but guaranteed serious gastro-intestinal illness.

My sainted Scots-Irish grandmother was an educated woman, yet so ripe with superstitions from the Old Country she basically qualified as a witch. Her beliefs and behaviors impacted me in such a way that I developed a lasting respect for the Old Ways, without feeling the need to ridicule them.


I guess baphometboucing has his point. And many don't want to tempt fate by going against the old age traditions.
I was lucky to have parents who were strong in their cultures and values, yet very logical about why certain traditions are carried out. My grandmother would scold us if we didn't finish every grain of rice on our plate as a child – as the "spirit of the rice" would come out and cry. My mother explained that harvesting rice back in the old times was a hard and strenuous chore, so when we wasted our food, it was a sign of disrespect for our parents/family members who went out to the paddy fields sweating it out for food on the table. So the spirit of the rice would probably be the constant nagging from our elders.

Another example is for singletons - combing your hair while walking down the stairs would cause you to marry late. Truth is according to mum, you should be paying attention while walking down the stairs and not doing 2 things at once as the likelihood of falling down is greater. And if you were to be paralyzed after the fall, then it would be hard to find a suitor to marry you.

Makes more sense if you find the reason behind the root of the behaviours huh? Oh well..good luck!

1 comment:

  1. Pon, I totally agree with you. I guess our elderly created all sorts of pantang probably something happened back then. Its good to follow the pantang which is relevant but not to the extreme.