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Bateq tribespeople still hold on to traditional beliefs - academic

Bernama  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The Bateq Orang Asli, the majority of whom have embraced Islam, still strongly hold to traditional beliefs inherited from their ancestors.

Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin lecturer Mohamad Asmawi Ibrahim said that based on his observations of the community, not much Islamic influence can be seen in their behavioural patterns.

He said the Bateq still believed in the existence of certain entities or supernatural beings who have power and influence over their lives.

"The entities are called Hala, Asal, Karei, and Gobar. The names are symbols of eternal power and often referred to as extraordinary powers or spirits called Orang Hidup,” he told Bernama here today.

Asmawi said his observations in 2017 also found that the beliefs were still practised in various contexts of their lives.

This includes women and elders saying "Gobar" when the thunder roars.

"Gobar is associated with an extraordinary creature that guards the rivers and the universe as well as human conduct."

Asmawi said the Bateq believe that human beings who violate rules will make Gobar angry, which will be shown by sending thunder or lightning and other natural disasters such as floods and drought.

The tribe also believes that Hala had the power to create nature and its contents while providing sustainable resources, he said.

Hala is said to have an intermediary ability to control the world of spirits and the supernatural, as well as being the first reference when there was a disease-related problem.

"The Bateq people continue to follow the beliefs and taboos so that they will be safe and to avoid disasters."

Asmawi said they were also afraid of breaking the taboos out of fear that it would cause them harm or damage.

The plight of the Bateq tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang came to attention of late after two people were suspected to have died of pneumonia early last month.

The media had previously reported that they claimed to have been plagued by a mysterious illness, resulting in a number of deaths.

Yesterday, the Health Ministry said that there were 14 Orang Asli deaths in the area, and that the root cause of the deaths would be known soon after tests had been completed.

- Bernama

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