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Date [ 2014-04-24, 07:22 ]

This age old custom is to essentially drive bad luck away.

Flower bath at Sok Wayah Spa.

(Kuala Lumpur=Koreanpress) Azmi Anuar  = The Mandi Bunga though performed for a variety of reasons, is mainly to stop a spell of bad luck or misfortune. The Malays would say ‘buang sial’ or to throw  bad luck away.

This ritual is performed by the Malays, Chinese and Indians. So it is not surprising there are variations to the bath. While the Malays use flowers and herbs, the Indians mainly flowers, the Chinese additionally use the pomelo leaves.They believe the leaves dispel bad luck.

When a Chinese is feeling low, facing hardships or a string of misfortunes, one way to counter this is to take the Chinese version of the Mandi Bunga. While some will just wash their face and hands with the water that holds boiled pomelo leaves, others will take a bath with it.

The Malays and Indians on the other hand use kaffir lime (limau perut) to dispel the evils of black magic or bad luck. The lime is cut and mixed with plain water, after which a bath is taken with it.

Some Indians also add in herbs and also seven types of coloured flowers for according to ancient Sanskrit text, the colours of the flowers carry good strong vibrations and energy that are able to dispel misfortunes.

It does not matter if different types of flowers are used  and whether they have fragrance or not. However  two  types of flowers are not used by the Indians generally. One is the bougainvillea (bunga kertas) which in Malay the ‘kertas’ stands for paper and is considered as not a good omen as paper is dry and can be easily burnt.

The other is the frangipani (bunga kempoja). Unlike in the Pacific islands where it is used as a lea, in this part of the world it is often used for wreaths and so associated with death.

In the past, people used to go to a bomoh, a holy man or a spiritualist and be given a holy Bunga Mandi. Some of the bomohs would have them wear a big wrap-around piece of new white or red cloth, which would be discarded and never used again after the bath.

But nowadays many people may take a flower bath just to feel extra refreshed. The way to do it is to have a tub of cold water. Next add in the kaffir lime. Some also add in scents and perfumes. Next you can place full flowers into the tub, making sure they float on the surface. An alternative would be to pluck out the petals and sprinkle them in.

Now leave the mixture for at least 15 mints after which you can enter the tub and stay there for at least another good 15 minutes. After the fifteen minutes you can continue to stay in the water or come out. Next take a cool shower and though you may use soap or other bath products, it would be best not to do so after the Mandi Bunga.

What if you do not have a tub to climb in into? Not to worry, do the same thing with a big pail of water and after the mandatory 15 minutes, pour the mixed water over you until the bath is finished.

Practitioners of the Silat are used to taking these flower baths! It has also become much commercialized now and many spas, holiday retreats and resorts offer the Mandi Bunga. This is very common in Bali.
There are some who swear by the Mandi Bunga. Pushpa reveals, “I had a Mandi Bunga by a bomoh in Lumut. My boss was more kind to me after that and I am now due for a promotion.”

May Lin is pushing 32 and was on the verge of giving up on marriage. “Relationships never lasted with me. The last was just for two months. My Mandi Bunga seems to have worked for I am due to marry a doctor next month.”

Whether the Mandi Bunga works in dispelling bad luck or not, at least you have had a refreshing bath!


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