As you may now know, Buddhism in Southeast Asia incorporates various faiths. Animism, the belief that everything has a spirit was the de facto ‘religion’ in the region. Hinduism and its numerous gods and epics (Buddha was born into a Hindu family from a Hindu country) are visible in numerous temples and monuments. And it is no more evident than at Erawan Shrine, located on the busy junction of Ploenchit and Rajadamri Roads, near the shopping complexes of Siam, Central World and Gaysorn Plaza in downtown Bangkok.
Inside the Buddhist designed shrine is a statue of Brahma, believed to bring fortune and good luck to worshipers. The shrine was built in 1956, in response to superstition. The Grand Erawan Hotel was being constructed at the time, but was met with a series of unfortunate and even disastrous events. Cost overruns, the loss of a marble shipment intended for the hotel, and not least worker injuries and fatalities plagued its construction. The able workers, fearful and superstitious, refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased. In desperation, the contractor contacted an astrologer who confirmed the laborers’ concerns. So, there you have it, the construction of the Erawan Shrine. Oh, and no worker or construction related mishaps occurred afterward.
The memorial is not very hard to miss. If you happen to be in downtown Bangkok, walking between the Siam and Chidlom BTS stations, you will see it, hear it and smell it. The intersection is quite alive with activity; Thai dance troupes, traditional musical performances and followers paying respect paint an interesting picture while incense candles give off its unique aroma.
Unfortunately, the shrine was headlined for the wrong reasons in the early hours of March 21st, 2006. A mentally ill man vandalized the statue with a hammer. For a short time, the shrine was closed to the public but officials re-opened it with photographs of Bhrama so worshippers can continue to pay their respects. The new statue was placed in the shrine on May 21st 2006 with much fanfare and celebration. In case of another event, an extra statue is kept at the National Museum as backup.
If you are in the capital, take some time exploring its main sites and destinations via the numerous transportation options available in the city. Join up for a ride on the Skytrain to a public boat along the Chao Praya River, which will take you to Wat Pho and the Grand Palace. Then enjoy a tuk tuk ride and canal boat trip to Jim Thompson’s house in the center of Bangkok. All this and a glimpse of the Erawan Shrin is in order with our Bangkok City Safari day trip tour.
But wait, this is Thailand. There is more! Check out a country dominated by crystal blue oceans, sandy beaches, rolling jungle hills, rainforests, countryside living, waterfalls and much more via our Thailand tours.
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