Superstitions of Indonesia

Technology is running rapidly, yet talking about superstition is still somewhat refreshing. In this hi-tech era, we hear superstitions less and less. But if you go to rural or even some suburban Indonesia, you may still hear a lot of them. In the past, elders used superstitions to scare children from doing something disrespectful. Or maybe... they really did happen. Regardless of whether they are true or not, we will try to explain it logically.

Funny? Scary? Absurd? Let's take a look at some of them, and give us comments below!

1. Thou shalt not sweep at night

Hard BroomstickIt's one of the most well-known Indonesian superstition out there. The superstition says that sweeping at night would make it difficult to attract luck as it means that we sweep our lucks away. This superstition is much more prevalent in Javanese culture.

Sweeping at night is used to be very noisy and might drive your neighbors crazy. In suburban and rural areas, houses usually have a very big yard. Sweeping them would take a lot of time, and nobody wants to hear sweeping sound for a long time at night. It doesn't only apply to sweeping yard, but also sweeping floor of the house as well. In the past, we don't have a nice wood flooring or ceramic tiles, let alone the thrilling glass floor. Just raw earth or rarely concrete floor. So, people couldn't use soft broom like nowadays and had to use hard broomstick which would severely disturb the people inside.

2. Thou shalt not run over a cat

Felis CatusThis superstition is extremely popular, and almost every Indonesian know about this one. Everywhere in the world people take a good care to not run over animals on the road, but in Indonesia you should be more careful to not run over crossing cats. The superstition said that running over a cat would bring you bad luck, and would even get you a traffic accident later on the road. If people accidentally hit a cat, they would wrap the unfortunate cat with their own clothes and bury it properly to prevent bad things from happening.

Cat is somehow admired by the Moslem for its cleanliness and for being loved by the Islamic prophet Muhammad so people take even more care when dealing with run-over-a-cat accidents. Religious aside, letting a dead animal on the road will be disturbing for other people. The carcass is also very dangerous for the traffic.

3. Thou shalt not eat at the doorway, nor linger there when it is raining

DoorAnother well-known superstition, though this one is more prevalent in Javanese and Sundanese culture. It says that eating at the doorway would make it harder for you to find your soulmate; thus, it would be harder for you to get married. It also says that you'd be struck by lightning if lingering at the doorway on a rainy day. Unfortunately for the ladies,—forget eating or the rainy day—this superstition even forbid them to linger there for whatever reason or whatever weather is it, for it would make it harder for them to get their prince charming.

Old houses usually have only one entrance: the front door. This superstition is referring to that door; it would cause inconvenience for people who want to pass through if someone lingers there moreover if someone eats there. The food could be contaminated by dust of the road if being eaten there and it could also be tempting for hungry passers-by. When it's raining, the water could splash inside so the door should be closed but it can't be closed if someone lingers there.

4. Thou shalt not whistle at night

Frank Duveneck - Whistling Boy (1872)As far as we know this one is also observed by Armenian and Kazakhstani. It is said that whistling at night could attract ghosts. This superstition is more prevalent in rural areas as there is almost no nightlife there so instead of people, ghosts would hear and come toward the whistler.

This superstition most likely stems from rural areas then spreads to suburban and urban areas. After 10:00 ㏘, rural areas could be very quiet so the whistle would be heard far away. Just like sweeping at night, the noise will annoy your neighbors. Well... it's also kinda spooky hearing a whistle in the middle of night.

5. Thou shalt not sleep at dusk

DuskIt is said that sleeping at dusk will make you crazy. Even if the parents don't believe it will make their children crazy, most of them will still wake and scold their children for sleeping around sunset. Yes, without any explanation.

Sleeping too early will wake us too early or maybe even in the middle of night. Keep in mind that the good old times and rural area nowadays didn't have nightlife (though they do have electricity now), so social activities after work occur in early evening. We would miss them if we sleep too early.