Also known as banana blossom, this purplish flower of the banana plant hangs at the end of the stem holding a cluster of bananas.
The flower is edible and common in Southeast Asian cuisines.
When we were little, we were forbidden to hang around banana trees as our elders believed that these trees harboured ghosts!
With Halloween just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share a few of the banana ghost folktales I grew up on.
Hantu Pisang (Malaysian)
According to the Mah Meri (an indigenous tribe of Peninsular Malaysia), the banana heart transforms into a beautiful young woman when it is pierced with a nail attached to a thread. She seduces men and then takes away their souls!
Ba Jiao Jing (Chinese)
A wailing female spirit who appears under a banana tree at night, sometimes carrying a baby. It is believed that gamblers can summon the spirit to ask for “lucky numbers” in the hope of striking the lottery.
A red string is tied to the banana heart and the other end of the string is tied to the bed of the person invoking the spirit. At night, the banana spirit will visit her captor and begs to be freed. In return, she will bestow them a set of winning numbers. A horrible fate awaits those who fail to release the spirit after winning!
Nang Tani (Thai)
A lady ghost who dwells in wild banana tree groves. She is supposedly very beautiful and wears a green traditional Thai costume. Hiding in the day, she will only appear at night when the moon is full. Generally, the Nang Tani is not malevolent and will only harm bad men who mistreat women.
Men who cheat on their wives, BEWARE!
In Thailand, it is not uncommon to see banana trees tied with colorful satin cloths — an indication that the trees are inhabited by Nang Tani. Cutting down these trees will incur her wrath.
|A clump of wild banana trees tied with colorful cloths|
A late cousin of mine was told that if she smeared her blood onto a banana heart, she would be able to see a banana ghost/spirit. A very curious teenager then, she conducted the experiment. Nope, she did not see the banana ghost/spirit but she was never the same again after the incident. She fell into a deep depression, turned to drugs and alcohol and attempted suicide a couple of times. She died of cancer at the age of 43. She was diagnosed with bipolar by several doctors but our elders believed that she was cursed by the banana ghost/spirit she invoked. Really, who's to say?
When I was in college, I stayed in a rented house with 3 other tenants. And yes, there was a banana tree in the yard. One of the tenants claimed he heard a female voice singing at ungodly hours on several occasions. Yes, the sound came from the direction of the banana tree! The rest of us didn't hear anything though.
We never knew for sure if he was just pulling our leg but he did move out in a hurry!