Ganug Nugroho Adi, Wonogiri – As COVID-19 continues to spread across Indonesia, some residents of Wonogiri, Central Java, have resorted to wearing amulets, which they believe will help to protect them against infection.
The amulets include batu akik (gemstone rings), fabrics inscribed with Arabic letters and akar bahar (scorched black root) bracelets. The Wonogiri residents obtained the amulets by buying them from a local shaman.Manjung hamlet resident Warsito said that he and his friends bought unbleached fabric with an Arabic inscription from a shaman who lived next to him. According to Warsito, people often visit the shaman for help in solving their problems, ranging from financial to family issues.
"He has been working as a shaman for a long time. I only bought this amulet as a form of prevention. I also maintain my personal hygiene by washing my hands and staying at home," he said.
Another resident, Widodo, 43, visited a shaman in Pule, Selogiri. He obtained a gemstone that the shaman claimed was able to prevent COVID-19 infection. Similar to Warsito, Widodo also said he maintained a hygienic lifestyle to avoid getting the virus.
"I went to the shaman for other business, but they gave me the gemstone. I wear it because they gave it to me," Widodo said.
He explained that the gemstone was known as tapak jalak, a type of gemstone that is often used to ward off misfortune. "It only costs Rp 100,000 [US$6.98]," Widodo said.
Wonogiri Regent Joko "Jekek" Sutopo said that some of his residents still believed in superstitions and emphasized that the amulets would not stop the spread of COVID-19.
"If you want to avoid [getting infected by] COVID-19, you have to maintain a hygienic and healthy lifestyle, as well as keep your distance from crowds. The government already issued guidelines; [residents] only have to follow them," Jekek said. "Washing your hands with soap is much more effective than using gemstones or reciting spells."
Jekek also called on the public to be more logical. "Please do not trust misleading sources for information on COVID-19, such as the information that claims the virus can only infect people from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. because it is killed in the daylight," Jekek said.
As of Saturday, the Wonogiri administration identified 113 people who may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, while 17 patients were being monitored for the virus. There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the area. (dpk)