01 June 2010

Mass Hysteria

Sometimes you can understand all the words in a text and still have no idea what is going on.

On page 1 of the Media Permata of 18 May, there was a story about mass hysteria breaking out in some junior and middle schools in Brunei. Two causes for this mass hysteria were given: semangat syiling, which was accompanied by the English translation "Spirit of the Coin"; and dirasuk makhluk halus, which literally means 'tempted by thin creatures'. This all left me quite bewildered.

I asked my colleagues to explain, and apparently semangat syiling involves some kind of ritual with menstrual blood and spinning a coin; and dirasuk makhluk halus means being possessed by evil spirits. But, to be honest, I still don't get where the mass hysteria comes from.

I guess there are some things in this country that I'll never understand.