11 January 2010
The last ritual- 'tohun'
After a few days of cleaning up and de-junking, I came across an old plastic bag that contained something that looked like charcoals on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinet. I looked at the 'things' for a long time, asked hubby if he knew what they were, and he said they looked like charcoals, affirming what I thought. He said charcoals can get rid of bad smells so I decided to put the bag in the cabinet underneath the sink, where I keep my kitchen bins.
I've forgotten all about it when hubby suddenly asked if it was possible that those 'things' were 'tohun' and I jumped off my chair because I suddenly remembered! Yes, they are 'tohun', which are pieces of burnt firewoods that have been sort of 'chanted on' and have special purposes. And these particular ones are the last 'tohun' my late grandmother ritualized in 2006 before she passed away a year later. The first thing that came to mind was, 'tohun' can't be stepped over. Thankful that I haven't broken that rule, I quickly recovered the bag and put the 'tohun' in this jar:
I sat for a while and reminisced. And decided to write all my late grandmother's instructions on the jar to be a lasting memory. Grandmother's words came back loud and clear:
1. Tohuns are to be used to get rid of bad energy from a young child's body, the one that makes a child sick or cranky.
2. Use it before leaving the house for a journey, or even at home when necessary.
3. Take a piece of it, move it around the child's body starting from the navel and stopping at the navel too and throw away the used one on the ground where the energy would dissolved.
4. DO NOT ever step over unused tohuns!
Guiltily, I tried to remember if I ever did use it as she instructed. I might have, once before I left for Perth again after my fieldwork. I wish I could use it again but now that the children are all big, I don't think I should. Plus I have forgotten exactly how to do it and when in doubt, one shouldn't act, I think.
Anyhow, in memory of grandmother, I am preserving them for the future generations. Once, this was our practice. It is still our culture albeit a disappearing one. It will always hold a special place in my heart.