Tag Archives: Nat

A Nat’s Malevolent Dream

Nationality: Burmese

Primary Language: Burmese

Other Language(s): English

Age: 19

Occupation: Student

Residence: Baltimore, WA

Performance Date: 03/19/2024

Y.Y. has been my friend since Kindergarten, and is also a Burmese person who is originally from Yangon, Myanmar. He recounts the time P, his grandma told him a horror story about Burmese spirits. Their relationship is very close knit, as his grandma would regularly tell him Burmese legends and superstitions that she has learned about. 

“In Pyi Oo Lwin, there are a lot of cave pagodas and this one family went on a vacation there. They visited a cave pagoda one morning during their trip and later that night, their son had a dream. In the dream, he was in the exact same cave pagoda they were at earlier that day. In caves like these, there are usually ponds that are created since water would drop and seep through from the top of the caves due to humidity. There was a pond in that cave pagoda and it just so happens that there was a lot of treasure in that pond. Somehow, he ended up in the cave in real life the next day, to search for the treasure in the pond. Days later they found his corpse floating with chains tied around his body on top of the pond. P. Told me that sometimes Nats (god-like spirits) try to seduce people into the areas that they are chained to, because they are finding a replacement. Nats are usually found in sacred places like those ponds and they attract humans using dreams and hallucinations so they can leave the place once a replacement has been found. I interpret the story my grandma told me as a way for her to make me respect or at least fear the Nat. This is because my family usually doesn’t believe in spirits like the Nat but she does, so she says that although we don’t have to worship them, at the very least we should respect and acknowledge them when we visit pagodas so they don’t harm us. 

I personally found this story really terrifying, and interpret it as an unrealistic legend made to incite fear in us. I think these stories usually have a motive that is trying to push a certain narrative or lesson on to us. For this story, I think it teaches us to not wander off and be greedy. Since P. told Y.Y. this when he was quite young, it might be her way of protecting and warning him from danger whenever they visit sacred places like temples. In Myanmar, it is very important that we are respectful when we visit sacred places like pagodas and temples. We would have to be dressed a certain way, and not do much else other than pray and walk around there. This type of story makes sure people are not doing anything that can be considered greedy or sinful, when they are at sacred places.