We here at IA often claimed that we are a bunch of (somewhat) educated folks, and we don't really believe in (black) magic or any other superstitious mumbo-jumbo.
We believe most of you, our beloved readers, would think the same.
But read this: A while back Gus Dur, our former president, had a ruwatan
, a ritual held to get rid of the country's bad luck. For the ritual, offerings are prepared (we guessed they consisted of food, fruits, flowers etc) and -- as part of the ritual -- would then be thrown to the sea. 
Gus Dur is not alone. KRH Darmodipuro, an expert in Javanese calendar who is also the chairman of Radya Pustaka Museum in Solo, did the same for our president SBY ."Ever since he was elected as the president, our nation entering endless miseries. ... These have something to do with the president's wuku. He needs rituals like this,"
Does he really? Or are these just our grand excuses to throw big parties?
If you read the article, among the bad lucks to be driven away are landslides and floods.
Hmm. By throwing good food to the sea? We think not.
Why not do this: Stop cutting the trees. Save the forests.
Are we really that superstitious to think that some external magical power can save us from miseries that we actually created ourselves ?
What do we want? Keep cutting trees and yet asking to be spared from the catastrophe resulting from it?
Isn't that like stealing money from your mother's purse, and when you get caught, you hope that your mother will punish you by giving even more money?
Is it just us, or do you - our beloved readers - also think this is rather illogical?Are we superstitious?
Time for yet another silly experiment:
We decided to put some fresh flowers (jasmine, petals of roses, and others usually used to adorn graves) in a box, punctured some holes on it to let the fragrance out, and put the box in our office's central air conditioner duct inside the ceiling. We hope the fragrance will softly spread to all the rooms.
For those who don't know, for us Indonesians the smell of such flowers is closely related to something mystical, something ritual, and yes, makes us think of graveyards. It gives the 'other-world' ish kind of sense. Something spooky.
(If you are not Indonesians, don't worry if you cannot understand this. To digest this would be just as difficult as Indonesians trying to understand why 'curling' is considered a serious sport...)
We would like to see how the people at our office would react when they smell the fragrance.
What happened then?
At first, we couldn't smell anything. We thought our experiment had failed. But then, one of our secretaries who apparently had a very sensitive nose, noticed the smell.
We overheard her talking to other fellow secretaries. Strangely enough, she said the fragrance was always there since she started working here. That was 2 years ago."I always smell it, on and off"
, she said. We tried hard not to laugh.
But then, read this: she thinks the fact that she is still single at the age of 34, is because the office is 'unlucky'. The intermittent flower fragrance that she smelled is the proof. "This office is jinxed,"
And of course the fact that her over-protective father -- who always drops her off and picks her up and scrutinizes every men who tried to date her -- does not play a role.
Then we overheard one of our office-assistants mentioned the smell. He too, thought there was something 'mystical' going on. Suddenly he found the cause of his chronical backpain problem. "I started to have this backpain since I started working here. This office is the source of the problem. Not me..."
Yeah right. And the fact that he is overweight and spends most of his free-time at home watching tv (instead of exercising) is not the root of the problem.
Wake up, you couch-potato.
The ultimate happened when one of our counterparts came for a meeting at our office. Our counterparts love to have meetings at our office instead of theirs. Maybe because we always serve them nice refreshment. Or because they can have a two-hour meeting and then goof-off all afternoon, while their staff think they are still in a meeting with us.
Mr X (let's call him that) came with his two male-assistants who seemed to always be busy making sure he is well taken care of. What a good life you have when you are important.
After some coffee and cookies, we all went to the meeting room. Everybody sat, and one colleague was about to start the presentation when Mr. X started to sniff something."Did Mr. so and so visited this office recently?"
he asked. This Mr. so and so is Mr X's colleague, from the same department. Both him and Mr X are the candidates the department sent to eventually chair the project when it starts. A prestigious project for their scale, such position will help boost the career of the chosen one. Not surprisingly, there is some competition going on behind the screen.
Well, yes. Mr so and so visited us a few days ago.
Suddenly Mr. X's face turned pale. He jumped on his feet and left the room. Just like that. His assistants scrambled to clear-up Mr X's stuff and ran after him. Leaving us sitting there with our mouths wide open. What the h...
We called one of Mr X's assistants an hour later, to ask if we did anything wrong. The assistant said no, and he apologized on behalf of Mr X. The meeting was then rescheduled for next week, this time at Mr. X's office.
When we insisted to hear some explanations, the assistant reluctantly told us:
The competition between Mr. X and Mr. so and so to chair the project was fierce, up to a point where Mr. X thinks Mr. so and so is trying to harm him. Not directly, but - yes, you guessed it - through black magic. So Mr X got himself a spiritual consultant, who advised him to be careful when he smells flower fragrance at odd places. That, is a sign of black magic being used. "This is a serious matter,"
said the assistant, "One day, a mysterious small heap of flowers was found in front of Mr. X's office door. The spiritual consultant was called right away to cleanse the air from evil spirits"
Apparently, the smell of our flowers scared the pants off Mr. X...
This is just bizarre to the max.
So to answer the question: yes, folks, apparently we are superstitious.
We may not believe it, we may not want to admit it, but we dare not to question it, and at times afraid of it.
When it comes to superstition, we often hear people say "If you can't understand it, don't mess with it..."
We decided to stop the experiment. We don't want our silly experiment to interfere with our work. We hope Mr. X will someday return to have a meeting here again.
Now if you excuse us, we need to rearrange our office furniture.
According to our consultant, it is not feng-shui compliant...
- Agar Indonesia Tak Sial, Gus Dur Ruwatan di Yogyakarta
 Yosef Ardi
- Cleaning Up the President's Bad Aura