Growing up in a village with extended family members 3 or 4 generations has its perks. I get to learn many things about my culture, traditions and customs. Besides that, I also grew up among many superstitious beliefs, unnecessary bans and prohibitions.
We all know that old people tend to come up with all kinds of stories, tales, warnings, reminders or simply what we call ‘Old wives tales’. These reminders serve to prohibit children from committing certain acts or else something bad will happen to them. Being children, we tend to be superstitious and believe in such stories or consequences and hence abstain ourselves from doing what is banned by our elders.
However, as we grow up, we learn that those warnings are nothing but mere reminders to keep our behavior and manners in check, to prevent disaster or mishaps from happening or simply for hygiene or preventive measures.
Here are some examples of those prohibitions that I grew up with and the consequences that come with them. Some of the consequences are really extreme and hammy and they really scare the hell out of us children so much so that we will really obey them to the letter. I include also the rationale behind such banned behaviors for us to reflect and evaluate.
Don’t open your umbrella in the house or somebody close to you will die. Rationale: The spokes can injure a baby or poke somebody’s eye or simply it will crowd the small house or a wet umbrella will definitely mess up the house.
Singing in the kitchen while cooking is banned (for single women) or she’ll marry an old man. Rationale: To prevent food or the person from getting burnt or to prevent accidents involving fire and hot utensils.
Eat at one place, don’t change places or you’ll not have a long-lasting marriage and you’ll change many wives or husbands. Rationale: so as not to dirty the whole house as kids tend to be messy when they eat.
Sitting on pillows is not allowed or you’ll develop boils. Rationale: Hygiene – how can you put your butt on the place where you put your face and eyes?
Don’t whistle at night or a snake will come inside the house. Rationale: Night time is time for peace and quiet. Some old people sleep early so it’s not nice to whistle.
So what do you think? Aren’t our elders creative?
Photo credits from these websites: http://hijaugreen91.blogspot.com/2012/07/jangan-berkaraoke-di-dapur.html, http://zyraroxx.blogspot.com/2012_08_01_archive.html, http://aydashomel.blogspot.com/2012/06/kepercayaan-orang-tua-tuafakta-auta.html