Are taboos standing between you and your dream home?

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SOME may consider them as mere superstitions but the different races and cultures in Asia including those in Malaysia are well known for the many taboos they believe in, even when it comes to choosing the right home.

So it is not surprising if a homeowner tells you that he or she bought or refrained from buying a property because of the number on the address, for example.

It is true that some unique property-buying taboos in Malaysia do stop people from making a purchase.

Today, even in the modern digital age, many still err on the side of caution and keep these superstitions in mind.

Here are the five most common taboos among Malaysians when choosing a property or new home. And if you are thinking of selling your property now or later, it may augur well for you to know some of these taboos.

1. The site

It is quite common for Malaysians to avoid buying a property that slopes down towards the road, as it is believed that the downward slant will lead the house owner’s wealth and luck to “flow away”.

There is also a belief that a house with an entrance that is lower than the road level will invite bad luck. However, the more practical reason for this taboo is that when the road level is higher than the house, it will bring more dust into the house.

The Chinese, especially, normally avoid buying a property that faces a T-junction, as it is said that evil spirits enter the world from this “gateway” and will therefore affect the health and wealth of the people staying in the house.

Another modern-day taboo, which concerns health, is related to properties that are near high-tension wires. Many Malaysians tend to stay away from properties near high-tension cables out of fear that the wires may emit electrical or magnetic fields, which many people fear could increase the risk of cancer.

2. The numbers

It is widely known that in Chinese culture, the number four (4) is considered unlucky. Any number is fine except those that have “4” in it, simply because the number sounds similar to the word “death” in Chinese dialects, especially in Mandarin and Cantonese.

For instance, in Cantonese, the number 14 is pronounced “sap sei”, which sounds like “sat sei”, meaning “sure to die” in Cantonese, while the number 24 “yi sap sei” could sound like “easy to die”. Anything that has a connotation of death is a no-no to the Chinese.

However, for the Malay community, the same number offers a completely different story.

It is one of their favourite numbers because the Malay word for four is “empat”, which rhymes with “dapat” — meaning “gain” or “receive” something. Some also say the number 4 looks like a person sitting cross-legged relaxing, meaning one does not have to work very hard.

It is also a pretty common superstition in general to view the number 13 as unlucky. Hence, many would avoid holding any significant events — such as weddings or opening of a new business — on the 13th, especially if it falls on a Friday.

3. The history

Of course no one wants to live in a property that is in poor condition or one which has been long left vacant and looks unsafe or creepy. It also puts a lot of people off if there had been any unnatural death such as suicide or murder in the particular unit. Generally, the different cultures in Malaysia believe that the spirit of the deceased may still be in the house.

Any property that used to be a hospital or religious place is a no-no to many Malaysians, as the place could be too “full of spirits” for them to live in.

For such properties, some Chinese people believe the negative energy can be cleansed by demolishing the entire building and allowing the bare site to receive as much sunlight as possible or for at least 49 days to pass before the rebuilding starts.

4. The view

Would you want to own a beautiful condo but with a cemetery view? The majority of us would probably answer “no”. Again, for the Chinese especially, living in properties near cemeteries is akin to living next to a temple or hospital because these places have strong “ying qi” or (negative energy). Generally, these properties will be slightly cheaper than a unit with a normal view.

The older Chinese folks in Malaysia also sometimes avoid buying high-rise properties fronting curved elevated highways because the curve of the highway is similar to the shape of a sickle and hence is considered as inauspicious to the wealth and health of the property owner.

When it comes to views, water bodies are favoured. The Hindus, for instance, prefer water views located at the right direction because in the traditional Hindu system of architecture known as Vastu Shastra, water is a huge energy generator. It will bring either very strong positive or negative energy, depending on where the water body is located in the house.

5. The direction

Traditional Indians often try their best not to let a main door face the southwest direction because they believe that the devil enters from that direction and hence will bring problems and misfortunes.

Meanwhile, the majority of Chinese homebuyers avoid buying homes that face the sunset or sunrise. Superstitions like these are based on practical reasons, as homes that do not face direct sunlight offer cooler indoor temperature and are therefore more comfortable to live in, especially in our tropical climate.

For the Malay Muslims in Malaysia, the design of a house is often considered with the qibla in mind. Qibla is the direction Muslims face when they pray, which is essentially the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca.

Toilets and showers should be perpendicular to the direction of the qibla while sinks should be facing the qibla when doing “wudhu” (ablution). Bedrooms should be placed perpendicular to the qibla but beds should be positioned so that someone sleeping on their right side will be facing the qibla. Desks should be oriented in such a way that one faces the qibla when studying, reading or working.

This story first appeared in pullout on Feb 2, 2018. Download pullout here for free.