Friday, April 24, 2009

Hantu Air, Puaka Air or Mambang Air

Hantu Air, Puaka Air or Mambang Air is the Malay translation for Spirit of the Water , Hantu Air is the unseen dweller of watery places such as rivers, lakes, seas, swamps and even ditches. It is mainly associated with bad things happening to people which includes drowning, missing, flooding and many more.

The term Hantu Air may sound spooky to Malays but when the term is translated into English it creates a new understanding of the meaning that besets the culture of the Malay people. For a long time the Malay Archipelago was ruled by animism {the believe in spirits} and people tended to associate almost anything with the spiritual world including nature.

Some people believe that the spirit will haunt places associated with water during or after it has been discarded by its previous owner. The unguided and lost spirit will soon roam the place. When it is hungry, it will feast on anything including humans.

Superstitions arising among the locals tell of this evil spirit dwelling in watery places where it sometimes disguises itself as an old tree trunk, a beautiful lady, fishes or other animals in order to attract unassuming people into its trap. When caught the human will be eaten or perhaps drowned to death.

There is a ceremony that is still popular among the local older Malays called Semah Pantai especially in the East Coast of Malaysia. It is a ceremony whereby fishermen and seafarers honor the sea spirits and at the same time ask for blessings and protection when they venture out to sea to catch fish.

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