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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2960

Eureka! Perfect Recipe to invite the wrath of gods: posing naked on holy mountains

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

We all know how to please gods and the practices, quite understandably, depend on the regions that the former rule over us and the intensity of the enthusiasm of the faithful, who love to be at their beck and call.

Little known, however, is a formula for doing the polar opposite – inviting the full-blown wrath of the very deities. This is exactly what the 10 young Western tourists mischievously discovered on Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia – only to end up, first in hot water and then, of course in jail.

Among them were two Canadian siblings, a Dutchman, a Canadian blogger and of course, a publicly-educated, young British woman with a degree in aeronautical engineering, whose involvement in the act made the headlines in the British media in the past few days.

The group, according to the local tour guide, started stripping naked while completely ignoring the repeated pleas of the latter on account of the sacred nature of the mountain and sensitivities of local people.

Is it a classic case of making a mountain out of a molehill? Not really, according to both the majority of Malaysians and the British public.

The men seemed to have made the first move – taking off their clothes completely. The degree of nakedness of the women involved is not clear – going topless, bottomless or ‘wholeness’, though. Adding insult to the injury, the men even had urinated on the mountain – the last straw in the eyes of many offended Malaysians.

The drama, which lasted a few minutes, seems to have given the group a sense of accomplishment, a good source of fun and of course, five-minute-fame – only to face the music, when an earthquake of magnitude 5.9 on the Richter Scale was triggered off by the resident mountain spirit, a few days later out of the blue.

When the fun ended with the inexplicable natural event in an area, which is normally not prone to earthquakes, the recriminations began in earnest as the significant damage around the mountain became all too clear: 20 innocent climbers – respectful, thrill seeking and sensible – lost their lives with a lot of casualties among the local communities. The tribal heads were furious and demanded punishment for offending their guardian spirit, which in turn caused the earthquake as a form of vengeance.

The silly stunt appeared to have been activated along gender lines with a Canadian male initiating the male stripping and Eleanor Hawkins, the British woman - a former head girl of a private school - complementing the act on behalf of the females by doing what she used to be good at during her school days – leading from the front.

Not only did Miss Hawkins leave her parents in the lurch back home, but also left the British consular staff in a precarious position - in the tricky process of negotiations for her release, when the locals were unequivocally demanding punishment.

By the weekend, her release became imminent with a fine and three-days in jail. Tim Hawkins, Eleanor’s father, breathed a sigh of relief while calling the sentence fair. But he had very little sympathy for Emil Kaminski, the Canadian mastermind behind the stunt, while branding him ‘half-wit Canadian guy’ – for posting the naked photos in the first place online and then ridiculing the tribal chief for not being rational in associating the earthquake with the nudity.

If Emil Kaminski thought that the tribal chiefs were irrational, the former does not seem to be very rational either, judging by the price that the tourists were forced to pay in the end.

The group seemed to have been caught in the latest craze – going naked in front of world famous sites in the hope they could get away with certain misdemeanours and then share the photos on social networking sites; whether the publicity – or notoriety – generated by this event could leave a dent on the trend, however, remains to be seen.

Even in Britain, where public nudity is banned, there have been occasions when both men and women, who otherwise seemed to be perfectly sane and decent, took off their clothes in public – at completely unexpected times.

For instance, I have seen it in football matches: a man from the crowd suddenly runs towards the centre of a pitch in birthday suit, only to be followed by a policeman with his cap in hand, while placing himself in an uphill struggle to cover the stuff that has just become public, which up until then was purely privately owned.

Not to be outdone by men, women do it too, especially in cricket matches. On these occasions, three policeman – at least – have to follow the woman in question with three caps in their hands, for obvious reasons, of course, in proportion to the assets on display, while completely ignoring the cleavage as an acceptable part of the anatomy for public view.

The ordeal of the Western tourists shows that the tendency to repeat the naked antics on the western soil in the East can be really risky. In fact, they were lucky that the local chiefs didn’t insist on charging them with ‘culpable homicide’ due to the death of mountain climbers.

People have been associating famous mountains with guardian spirits since time immemorial; The fact that these tourists went ahead with their stunt against the advice of the tour guide, shows two unfolding possibilities: they were either lured to perform the stupid act by a rival spirit, most probably from the demonic realm, who is in conflict with the good one or they drank so much alcohol in such a way that their own spirits were taken over by the spirits that usually live in the liquor bottles in dormant form.

Whatever the case, mountain spirits are not to be messed with, especially if the stunts are prompted by a sudden flow of adrenalin and the motive is short-lived fame.

- Asian Tribune -

Eureka! Perfect Recipe to invite the wrath of gods: posing naked on holy mountains
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