Normally, Malaysians aren’t really into the whole Halloween thing. Every year, we see it in movies and TV shows, but it’s never really taken off here the way it seems to have in the West.
“Oh, those wacky Americans with their funny costumes and Trick-or-Treating,” we chuckle before turning back to our normal lives.
But this year is different. After so long being stuck in lockdown, now that we’ve finally got the vaccine, it feels like everyone is just waiting for a reason — any reason — to go out and celebrate with their friends and family.
And hey, it’s not like we don’t have any scary stories to share. In fact, I’d say that our local myths and legends are way more interesting than the stereotypical zombie, werewolf, vampire, etc. — and I mean that in every sense of the word.
If you’re in the mood to get spooked, here are just a few of the ghosts that you can find right here in Malaysia!
#1: Hantu Tetek
What makes this ghost special?
Her big tetek. That’s it. That’s all you need to know. If we tried to explain any more, this would turn into an 18+ article.
In some stories, they’re said to grow from her back rather than her front, but I’m honestly not sure if that makes it better or worse.
According to legends, Hantu Tetek will hunt young men who are out alone at night. They lure them close, then kill them by… well… suffocation. With their breasts. They stuff your face into their chests and hold it there until you stop breathing. I’m serious. P-please stop laughing.
Ahem. Anywaaay, let’s move on, shall we?
Ah, thank goodness. A local ghost that doesn’t sound like she came from some 90s harem comedy anime.
The Penanggal is a type of female vampire, kind of like the Pontianak. However, the Penanggal have a creepy trick that sets them apart from their more famous cousins — the ability to detach their heads.
It is said that the Penanggal’s head can fly around by itself with its entrails trailing behind like a particularly gross tail. They use this ability to hunt for fresh human blood — particularly those from pregnant women or newborn babies.
The origins of the Penanggal are shrouded in mystery. Some claim that she is a wicked spirit who pretends to be a normal human woman by day and hunts her neighbours at night. Others say that she is the ghost of a woman who was once so surprised that her head jumped up from her body, pulling out all her entrails with it!
Either way, it is believed that placing thistle branches around your doors and windows will protect you from the Penanggal. If she tries to come in, her entrails will get caught by the thorns!
Moving away from female ghosts, the Bajang is a rather unusual type of spirit.
It is said that Bajang’s are civet-like spirits created by speaking a magical incantation over the newly buried body of a stillborn child. They can be sent to attack their master’s enemies, causing convulsions, unconsciousness or even hallucinations.
The Bajang’s master keeps it loyal by feeding it eggs and milk. If it is not cared for, the Bajang will turn on its master and eat him instead.
Before the master dies, he must pass his Bajang down to his own son. If he fails to find an heir in time, his own spirit will become cursed while the Bajang runs wild and causes trouble for everyone nearby.
Bajangs are said to be particularly dangerous to infants and young children. In the past, such children would be given gelang bajang (bajang bracelets) made of black silk to protect them.
#4: Hantu Pekak
If one of your friends seems to have trouble listening to you, don’t get mad — they might have been visited by the Hantu Pekak!
Many years ago, the Malay communities of Peninsula Malaysia believed that this ghost was responsible for making people deaf.
According to legend, the Hantu Pekak’s favourite activities involved yelling in someone’s ears all night until they developed hearing problems.
Back in the old days, the Hantu Pekak was part of a group of spirits that were believed to be responsible for all sorts of physical problems. There was the Hantu Gengal, which made people mute; Hantu Buta, which made people blind; and Hantu Bisa, which… gave people blood poisoning?
Not sure how that works, honestly. However, stories of Hantu Pekak and other similar spirits have become much rarer over the last few decades — probably because nowadays parents would rather blame Tik ok and rock and roll music for their kid’s hearing problems rather than a ghost.
#5: Hantu Golek
You’ve all heard of the Hantu Pocong, right? The ghosts who have to hop around everywhere because they’re trapped in their very distinctive white shroud?
Well, the Hantu Golek are basically the embarrassing relatives that Hantu Pocongs don’t like to talk about.
You see, while the Hantu Pocong has to hop around, the Hantu Golek can’t even do that. Instead, they just sort of… roll around on the ground whenever they want to get anywhere.
The poor things can’t even see where they’re going! Because they’re all wrapped up in their shroud, the Hantu Golek is just rolling around blindly and hoping to bump into something. This is probably one of the only ghosts that you can escape from by walking up a flight of stairs.
Celebrating Halloween in Style
Now that vaccinations have reached 90%, Malaysia is finally beginning to open up again.
If you’re in the mood to celebrate Halloween in style, we’ve put together a list of the best theme parks to visit this season. Whether you’re just looking for a fun family trip or a properly spooky adventure, we’ve got everything you need and more!
If you’re interested in learning more, be sure to check out: