We’ve just finished up a fantastic week-long shoot in Malaysia – where a world famous exorcist, Hindu priests, an expert on Malaysian folklore, tribal people, and a paranormal investigator all joined in the MONDO BANANA documentary to shed new light on the spiritual world of bananas in Southeast Asia.
Although officially an Islamic country, a number of diverse cultures and religions co-exist in Malaysia – from the Muslim Malay majority to the Buddhist and Taoist Chinese to the largely Hindu Indian population to the remnants of traditional Animist beliefs among the indigenous tribal groups. Arising from this multicultural mixing pot are a number of unusual folktales and beliefs about bananas, including a widespread story about an evil succubus who lives in certain banana trees and will grant men monetary and sexual favors, but at a very serious cost…
Beginning in Kuala Lumpur, we met up with a priest at the Sri Sakthi Vinayagar Temple who unveiled a 100 year-old statue of the Hindu god Ganesh, made from concrete, sugar-cane water, and banana pulp!
Then, it was off to meet the incredible “Sifu” a.k.a. Master Kok Wai Peng – a certified exorcist, Qi Gong healer, Feng Shui consultant, and Black Magic Hunter. Sifu had located a particular banana tree that housed a banana tree spirit and then he and his dedicated team bravely demonstrated how to call forth this dangerous ghost.
Next up, we visited with Siri Neng Buah, from the International Council of Folklore Festivals and Folk Arts Organization, who had the crew spellbound with his master storytelling as he shared a variety of traditional Malaysian tales involving bananas. Similar to folklore from other countries around the world, many Malay folktales are quickly fading from memory as progress and development take center-stage – so, it was wonderful to record a few of these special banana stories to help preserve them for future generations.
A trip north to the city of Ipoh, led us to Arwin John from Malaysian Paranormal Research. Arwin filled us in on a few other ghosts and spirits that are associated with bananas and banana trees in Malaysia. And, he took us to some local villages to search for the cursed “King Prawn Banana”, which has a reddish fruit, a bloody back-story about a King wounded in battle, and a continuing superstition that the tree will bring terrible luck and misfortune to those who come near it…
A teaser video clip from Malaysia will be coming soon!
With the Malaysian footage in the can, MONDO BANANA is certainly coming together!! Next on the agenda is more filming in Thailand, to find out about Thai versions of the banana ghost stories and to speak to anthropologists about the significance of the banana in Thai culture. So, please stay tuned!