Traditional Malay medicine encompasses various kinds of ritual ceremonies intended to communicate with the world of spirits to determine whether the nature of an illness is physical or psychological. In such ceremonies, the aim is to summon and exorcise the spirits causing illness. A ritualist serves as a medium, and a small ensemble often provides the musical component.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Malay Beliefs

Malay Beliefs
The study of early cults shows that the place of a sky god tends later to be taken by gods of the sun, the moon and the stars.

So in some ancient layer of Malay beliefs before the introduction of Saivism, the white spirit of the sun, the black spirit of the moon and the yellow spirit of sunset may have been important, seeing that they have Indonesian names (mambang), have been incorporated into the Malay’s Hindu pantheon, and have survived under Islam as humble genies.

The fishermen along the west of the peninsula sacrifice to four great spirits (also called mambang) who go by many names but whose scope is always the same. One is the spirit of the bays, another that of banks or beaches, another that of headlands, and last and fiercest is the spirit of tideways and currents.

Three of these bear primitive names used by the Proto Malays. The spirit of the tides is famous. The spirit of the bays mentioned as a black genie and the spirit of headlands as a white.

Was there originally a fourth spirit? To the three Proto-Malays names yet another, not convincingly authentic, is sometimes added.

But only three of the four bear Sanskrit names. And the modern naming of four spirits after the Archangels may be due to the liking of the Malay Muslim pantheist for that number.

It is uncertain, too, if the primitive Malays, like the people of Madagascar and Celebes, believed in four gods of the air in charge of the quarters of the globe.

In Bali Indian influence gave these gods Hindu names, and three are still worshipped there as forms of Shiva.

On peninsular charm speaks of “the four children of Siva who live at the corners of the world.” A Perak charm describes Berangga Kala as the spirit of the West, Sang Begor as the spirit of the East, Sang Degor as the sprit of the North and Sang Rangga Gempita as the sprit of the South.

But generally the four corners of the world are held to be in charge of four Shaikhs, of whom the most often mentioned Abdul Qadir, is probably the founder of the famous order of Muslim mystics.
Malay Beliefs
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