The Tuk Songo village in the Purworejo regency of Central Java has recently gone viral on social media for employing two men who dressed up as pocong to guard the kampung’s main entrance, after a self-imposed isolation aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 was put in place.
A pocong is essentially the Indonesian zombie, wrapped from head to toe with white cloth as is customary in Islamic burial rites, with only their faces uncovered. With their lack of limb mobility, they hop around from place to place.
The village’s spokesman, Angko Setiyarso Widodo, told Detik yesterday that residents have decided to self-isolate the village as a form of gotong royong — the Indonesian phrase for mutual cooperation — in the fight against the coronavirus, and that no one is allowed in or out until normalcy returns.
“Together with other residents, the pocongs will check on anyone who passes the gate including spraying disinfectants [on people]. The pocongs are only on duty at night, while other residents guard the gate during the day,” Angko explained.
With the ongoing isolation, all other access to the kampung is closed and residents can only enter through the pocong-guarded gate.
According to Angko, there is an important subtext behind the pocong guards.
“The pocongs are to remind us of death, so anyone who’s ngeyel (stubborn) and doesn’t want to participate in the coronavirus preventative measures can themselves become a pocong. Our hope is for the pandemic to end soon,” Angko said.