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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ghost tales underline Jakartan love for absurdities

It was the story of a headless pastor all over again-a headless pastor, carrying his own head with a black dog following him wherever he goes.

Legend has it that a watchman of the Jeruk Purut cemetery in South Jakarta encountered the decapitated pastor roaming amid tombs looking for his graveyard decades ago.

Much of the buzz on the Pastor sighting is still in the air, especially for those who easily buy into quixotic ghost tales passed around the city.

The bottom line is that such supernatural stories have become selling points in casual nocturnal chitchat among Jakartans, or for creative minds such as Koya Pagayo and Nanang Istiabudi, who have translated the myths into horror movies.

Indeed, the tale of the legendary headless Pastor of Jeruk Purut is one among the spine-tingling stories that have perpetuated myths, which are now entrenched in the minds of either non-believers or believers. But, the question is: How accurate are these stories?

"I have lived behind the Jeruk Purut cemetery since I was little, but that story is definitely a hoax," Umar, 40, a cemetery worker told The Jakarta Post.

Two middle-aged women working as graveyard mowers agreed with Umar's claim. "I don't know how that story became famous, but I have never encountered the so-called pastor," said one.

The eight-hectare cemetery has been expanding, with the most recent extension located at the northern part of the Jeruk Purut main road.

The old section of the cemetery, according to Umar, is facing space shortage, which means a burial space is sometimes forced to have up to three bodies from the same family.

Not that much farther from the cemetery is yet another sensational yet unproven Rumah Kentang (the Potato House) myth. The house gained its reputation because of the fried potato smell that the house emits.

The Rumah Kentang urban legend revolves around a story in which a toddler accidentally got into a large boiling cauldron full of frying potatoes. With that said, that was how the fried-potato smell arose, but some local vendors said they were unaware about the story.

[Click here to read full article]


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