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The House of Bhrama in Bangkok, Thailand

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The Erawan Shrine (known as San Phra Phom Erawan in Thai) is a large memorial used to honor the four-faced Hindu god Brahma (called Than Tao Mahaprom in Thai).  It is located on the busy junction of Ploenchit and Rajadamri Roads, near the shopping complexes of Siam, Central World and Gaysorn Plaza in downtown Bangkok.

The Erawan Shrine was built in 1956 during the construction of the luxury Erawan Hotel.  The construction of the hotel was pulled back by a series of unfortunate mishaps such as cost overruns, the loss of a marble shipment intended for the hotel, and not least worker injuries and even death.  The laborers, now overwhelmed with superstition and fear, blamed the unfavorable construction start date and refused to continue working unless the land spirits were appeased.  In desperation, the contractor contacted an astrologer who confirmed the laborers’ concerns.  So, on November 9th, 1956 (a date carefully chosen by the astrologer) the shrine was inaugurated.  After the shrine has been built, there were no more worker injuries and construction of the hotel went by smoothly.  The effectiveness of the shrine made the spot one of the revered in Thailand.

The Erawan Hotel opened to much fanfare and worldwide fame and fared well for three decades.  However, Bangkok started to develop at a rapid pace and more hotels with modern facilities were springing up.  The hotel could not compete and was eventually shut down and replaced in 1991 by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok.

The shrine may look Buddhist in design, but in actuality, it isn’t.  The god Bhrama originated from Hinduism.  Many Hindu gods, spirits and beliefs carried over into Buddhism, thus making Bhrama a widely accepted figure amongst Thais.

Thais and foreigners visit the shrine and offer prayers, incense and flowers to Brahma, wishing for luck and prosperity.   In return for seeing their prayers at the shrine answered, people will offer a teak elephant to Bhrama, which is on sale nearby while others will hire Thai dance troupes and a musical orchestra to perform for the deity.

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.  It is made of plaster, mixed with a mixture of gold, bronze and other precious metals, along with pieces of the old statue.  Another statue, fully made of metal and from the same mold is kept at the National Museum as stand-by.

A procession of lion dancers and musicians accompanied the new image from the Fine Arts Department to the shrine at 11am where over 1000 people were waiting.  The new statue was placed in the shrine at 11.39am when the sun was shining directly above the shrine.

If you are walking along the intersection of Ploenchit and Rajadamri Roads, you will surely notice the Erawan Shrine.  The area is filled with people paying their respects and of dances and Thai orchestral music.  It is surely worth a visit before heading off to one of the mega malls in the area while taking our Bangkok City Safari tour.  Thailand is an intriguing country and its wonders can be explored with our Thailand Special Package tour.  Take an extended tour of Bangkok before heading up north to Chiang Mai before unwinding on the sands and beaches of Phuket Island.  You can also see our Thailand tours page for other suggested trips into the country.

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