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‘ghosts’ volunteer to keep people indoors

  • Typically wrapped in white shrouds with powdered faces and dark-rimmed eyes, ‘pocong’ represent the trapped souls of the dead in Indonesian folklore
  • In some areas, villagers are calling on the age-old superstition to scare people into stay inside

    Kepuh village in Indonesia has been haunted by ghosts recently – mysterious white figures jumping out at unsuspecting passers-by, then gliding off under a full-moon sky.
    The village on Java island has deployed a cast of “ghosts” to patrol the streets, hoping that age-old superstition will keep people indoors and safely away from the coronavirus.

    “We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because ‘pocong’ are spooky and scary,” said Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of a village youth group that coordinated with the police on the unconventional initiative to promote social distancing as the coronavirus spreads.

    Known as pocong, the ghostly figures are typically wrapped in white shrouds with powdered faces and kohl-rimmed eyes. In Indonesian folklore they represent the trapped souls of the dead.

    But when they first started appearing this month they had the opposite effect. Instead of keeping people in they brought them out to catch a glimpse of the apparitions.

    The organisers have since changed tack, launching surprise pocong patrols, with village volunteers playing the part of the ghosts.

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