Horror Reads: Malaysian Superstitions

If you’re easily frightened, don’t read this at night while you’re hanging wet laundry with an open umbrella at home…

Why? Find out below...

As a Malaysian, you’ve probably heard about the many pantang larang that you should and shouldn’t do to avoid angering the spirits. Bonus point for you, if you grew up in a superstitious family, you’re probably familiar and still hold on to these ‘practices’ Asians do when it comes to avoiding the supernatural. 

But no worries if you’re not familiar, here’s a list of them to refresh everyone’s memory. And what better time to do it than on Halloween!

#1. Knock, knock...


Just checked into a hotel? Well before you push the key card, you may want to knock on the door first. Just like how you’d knock before entering a room, knocking on the door before entering your hotel room is a sign of respect to let whoever’s inside know that you’re entering. Otherwise, be prepared for extra company at night.

#2. Beware of wet laundry


Are you one who does the laundry at night? A word of caution — you might want to start doing them earlier. Some say that the pontianaks (Malay female vampires) follow the scent of fresh laundry to find their prey, while others say that energies of the wandering spirits will attach to your clothes, which gives bad energies and ultimately, bad luck.

#3. A startling reflection


If you’re thinking of doing a room makeover, just remember never to position your bed such that your sleeping position faces the mirror. According to superstition, it’s believed that your soul leaves the body when you’re asleep. Catching its own reflection in the mirror may startle it to never return to your body or that it might think the reflection is the real body and try to enter that instead. *gasp*

#4. Is someone following you?


After attending a funeral, you might feel the need to go straight home for a shower. BUT, unless you want to run the risk of an entity following you to bed, it’s best to stop by a public place like the convenience store before heading home. You’ll want to remember this the next time you visit a grave.

#5. Who’s calling you?


Going for a hike with your friends? Well, remember to never answer if you ever hear someone calling your name. Better yet, assign code names to each other and never respond to anything that calls your real name in the woods! It’s said that if you answer the call, you may never find your way out of the woods…

#6. Bad luck umbrellas


Many believe that opening an umbrella at home brings bad luck. The reason behind is unclear although the practice could be traced back to Egypt in the 1200 BCE, where Egyptian nobility used umbrellas made of papyrus and peacock feathers to shield from the sun. Opening an umbrella indoors would anger the sun god, Ra — hence, bad luck.

#7. A lovely smell


You’re walking back home alone, on a chilly night, you’re lost in your thoughts, recounting what’s happened in the day. And suddenly there’s a hint of fresh-smelling jasmine lingering in the air. Well, the only thing you should do is walk faster and not engage with anyone around you… especially a woman in white… In short, if you ever smelled something fragrant where no one else’s around, it’s probably you-know-what...

#8. Haunted banana trees


Depending on which you choose to believe, some say banana trees bring good fortune and happiness while some others might disagree. Locally, it’s said that banana trees are a favourite habitat of creatures like the pontianak and pochong (a ghost whose soul is trapped in their shroud). So, planting your favourite fruit near you is probably not a great idea…

#9. Death ink


Never ever write someone’s name in red ink. In many Asian cultures, people associate red with death as the colour was often used to write the names of people who have passed. Hence, writing someone’s name in red will bring bad luck or even death to that person.

Feeling creeped out yet? There are many more superstitions you can probably share with us! While these beliefs are carried on from generations before us, these days there are probably logical explanations behind some of them. So, take these with a pinch of salt but remember, you’ve been fairly warned!

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