Logical explanations of 7 weird superstitions in Indonesia


Modernization does not mean that we cannot talk about superstitions. Some rural and suburban areas in Indonesia still believe in these superstitions. In the past, elders used superstitions and myths to scare children from doing something wrong or disrespectful. But are these merely superstitions? Or are they really true? Regardless of whether they are true or not, here we try to explain those superstitions logically.

Superstition 1: do not sweep at night

It is probably one of the most well-known Indonesian superstitions out there. The superstition says that sweeping at night would make it difficult to attract luck (as it means that we sweep our luck away). Now, does it really sweep away our fortune?

In the past, Indonesians did not have nice ceramic or wood flooring in their homes. Most Indonesian houses’ floor was just raw earth or rarely concrete floor. So, people couldn’t use soft broom like nowadays and had to use hard broomstick made of palm leaves rib which would severely disturb the people inside.

Superstition 2: do not play outside after 6pm

This superstition is especially addressed for kids. It is said that “wewe gombel”, a scary supernatural creature who loves children, will kidnap them when they’re playing outside past 6pm (Maghrib time). So, kids in the past time (and even until now) usually will go home at least by 5.30pm.

If we try to explain it with logic, 6pm onward is dinner time, so kids need to be at home and have dinner together with their parents. Kids also need more time to rest, and if they spent too long time playing outside, they will not have enough time to study and rest at the night.

Superstition 3: don’t sit or stand at the doorway

This is another well-known superstition, and it is more prevalent in Javanese and Sundanese culture. It says that if you sit or stand at the doorway, it will be difficult for you to find your other half. If it’s raining and you’re standing at the doorway, you’ll be struck by lightning.

Logically speaking, sitting at the doorway will cause inconvenience for people who want to pass through the door. When it’s raining, the water could splash inside so the door should be closed.

Superstition 4: do not whistle at night

It is said that whistling at night could attract ghosts. This superstition is more prevalent in rural area as people usually stay at home at night.

Rural areastend to be very quiet after 10pm. So, if you whistle, it could be heard from distance. In other words, the whistle noise could annoy your neighbors.

Superstition 5: don’t open an umbrella indoor

This superstition says that if you open an umbrella indoor, someone in the house will die soon. Especially if your umbrella is black, as black umbrella is often associated with funeral.

What is the purpose of opening an umbrella indoor? Umbrella is supposed to be used outdoor to shield you from rain. Opening an umbrella indoor would take up space in your room and makes it inconvenient for people inside your house to move around.

Superstition 6: do not run over a cat

This superstition is extremely popular, and almost every Indonesian knows about this one. The superstition said that running over a cat would bring you a bad luck, and would even get you a traffic accident later on the road. If people accidentally hit a cat, they should first bump their vehicle on a banana tree, then wrap the unfortunate cat with their own clothes and bury it properly to prevent bad things from happening. Then, people should hold a “Selamatan”, in which they pray to expel the bad luck and embed a flower arrangement (jasmine, Kananga, and rose flower) on the vehicle. Weird, huh?

In Indonesia, cat is somehow admired by Muslims for its cleanliness and for being loved by the Islamic prophet Muhammad. So it is not surprising if people take even more care when dealing with run-over-a-cat accident. Religious aside, letting a dead animal on the road will be disturbing for other people and could be dangerous for the traffic.

Superstition 7: do not cut your fingernails at night

The superstition says that if you cut fingernails at night, your parents will die soon.

It probably has nothing to do with the mortality. But, sometimes our vision at night is not as clear as when it’s daylight. To prevent accidental cut or wound from finger clip, cutting nails at night is not advised.

Do you believe these superstitions? Or have you heard any other weird superstition in Indonesia? Share on the comment section!