A village on the island of Java have recruited volunteer ghosts to scare people in to staying at home, but for some, they've had the opposite effect.
Indonesia's leaders including President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) have been slow to react to the coronavirus pandemic and resisting a national lockdown. The capital Jakarta has ordered a two-week closure of offices, and banned gatherings of more than five people but has not directly ordered people to stay at home, as reported by VOA.
Instead, there have been information campaigns to urge individuals to practise social distancing and good hygiene. But with the highest rate of coronavirus deaths in Asia after China, some communities have decided to take matters into their own (washed) hands.
And since Indonesian's love all things horror – the archipelago's folklore contains hundreds of tales of ghosts and gouls – what better tool to keep people indoors than... GHOSTS!
A youth group in the village of Kepuh, in central Java, decided to recruit volunteer ghosts to patrol the streets, hoping that the sight of them would send anyone feeling home to hide under the bed-covers.
Anjar Pancaningtyas, head of a village youth group that coordinated with the police on the unconventional initiative, told Reuters:
We wanted to be different and create a deterrent effect because ‘pocong’ are spooky and scary.
With their trailing white shawls and painted white and black faces, a Pocong would be a terrifying thing to come across at night. These "shroud ghosts" who represent the souls of the dead, jump out from the grave to warn people that the soul needs to be released from the shroud in which it was buried.
While for some, the supernatural strategy seemed to be working a treat. Resident Karno Supadmo said:
Since the pocong appeared, parents and children have not left their homes... And people will not gather or stay on the streets after evening prayers.
But while people remain superstitious in Indonesia, it also won't come as too much of a surprise that others actually came outside to try and catch a glimpse of volunteer actors.
Though one person did point out that the ghosts should be careful not to spread the virus themselves, because as we all know, the virus doesn't discriminate.
Since the tactic somewhat backfired, organisers have tried a different route, launching surprise pocong patrols so that people can't expect where to lie in wait for a sighting. And a suprise ghost is always going to be more scary than one that sticks to schedule.