Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Welcome to Things That Go Bump In the Night – a Halloween special on my usually cutesy blog. But Halloween is one of my favorite non-desi holidays. This one's dedicated to my favorite monster - the evergreen, vampire.


 Starting out in the dim and obscure recesses of Eastern European folk tales and legends, the vampire has reached center stage in modern pop culture. Vampires are beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures. The Eastern European vampires had wide range of appearances ranging from nearly human to bloated rotting corpses but it was popular literature that created the archetype of charismatic and sophisticated vampire – with Bram Stoker’s Dracula being the most prominent piece of literature that brought the Vampire into the light…..

Is your barber using an old-fashioned razor? You might want to carry some garlic just in case.

Vampires are mythological creatures, the existence of which science has not yet been able to prove.  But there is a large amount of untested evidence directed towards the fact that vampire tendencies are a possibility among humans. There are certain features that put vampires into a class of their own. Blood, either human or animal, is a major part of a vampire’s diet. Sunlight will make a vampire’s skin burn. This is one of the main reasons most of them prefer to be indoors during the day and become more active at night. All vampires have fangs or large canines, whether you can see them or not.  Their main purpose is to dig deep into human flesh and make precise puncture wounds needed to start the blood flow. Vampires are thought to be immortal and only a ritual killing with a stake through the heart or decapitation can truly kill a vampire…..

Whether vampires are walking amongst or merely a figment of our imagination – they are powerful, beautiful and you would not want to bump into one…especially on Halloween…

Hear the audio version of this post  here


Another, female version of the vampire myth takes us to other side of the world – Malaysia. The Pontianak is a type of vampire in Malay folklore. Pontianak are women who died during childbirth  and became undead, seeking revenge and terrorizing villages. a  Pontianak usually announces its presence through baby cries or assumes the form of a beautiful lady and frightens or kills those unlucky enough to come too close. It disguises itself as a beautiful young woman mainly to attract its victim (usually male). Its presence can sometimes be detected by a nice floral fragrance, followed by an awful stench afterward.  The distance of a pontianaks cries are very tricky. The Malays believe that if the cry is soft means that the pontianak is near and if it is loud then it must be far. A Pontianak kills its victims by digging into their stomachs with its sharp fingernails and devouring their organs. Pontianaks must feed in this manner in order to survive.  It is believed that Pontianaks locate prey by sniffing out clothes left outside to dry. For this reason, some Malays refuse to leave any article of clothing outside of their residences overnight.

Not a bad looking girl, eh? Wait till she rips your guts out. Literally

Some believe that having a sharp object like a nail helps them fend off potential attacks by Pontianaks, the nail being used to plunge a hole at the back of the her neck. The Pontianak is associated with banana trees, and its spirit is said to reside in them during the day….
It might be a good idea not to leave any dirty laundry out this Halloween….
Hear the audio version of this post  here 
The basic idea of a blood sucking, demonic being can also be found in Chinese culture. In Chinese belief, each person has two souls, a superior or rational soul and an inferior irrational soul. The superior soul could leave a sleeping body and appear as the body's double as it roamed about. It could also possess and speak through the body of another.

The inferior soul, on the other hand, was called p'ai and was that which inhabited the body of a fetus during pregnancy and often lingered in the bodies of the dead. If the p'ai was strong enough, it could preserve and inhabit a corpse for a length of time, using the body to serve its needs. The body animated by the p'ai was called a chiang-shih.

A bloody sucking, kung-fu kicking, undead being? Doesn't get anymore terrifying than this!
Usually chiang-shih were created after a particularly violent death, such as a suicide, hanging, drowning, or smothering. It could also be a result of an improper burial, as it was thought that the dead would become restless if their burial was postponed after their death. The chiang-shih are not known to rise from the grave, so their transformation had to take place prior to burial.

Chiang-shihs are nocturnal creatures and have difficulties crossing running water. It was said that they were particularly vicious and ripped the head or limbs off their victims, feeding on their life essence or blood. After a period of growing stronger, chiang-shihs would gain the ability to fly, grow long white hair, and possibly change into wolves. Popularized beliefs about the chiang-shih include their form of movement, which is hopping while arms are stretched forward straight, due to rigidity of the dead body….

Watch out for any hoppers in the dark tonight….or make sure you have some garlic handy……

Hear the audio version of this post here 

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