"Erawan Shrine" Bangkok Travelogue by chiabh

Bangkok Travel Guide: 10,366 reviews and 23,038 photos

The Shrine...

The small shrine houses the statute of the Four-Faxed Brahma... Despite its international fame, the location of the Four-Faced Brahma statue at Erawan Shrine could not be more unexpected... This icon is in the heart of Bangkok and dwarfed by the suspended Skytrain tracks, Grand Erawan Hyatt and some of the glitziest malls around... It must be Bangkok’s smallest shrine as it sits on a handkerchief-sized patch of land surrounded by mini-mountains of flowers which have to be removed every 10 mins to make way for new bouquets... The din of traffic threatens to drown the live orchestra playing for the traditionally clad dancers... The Erawan Brahma is considered the most powerful in granting wishes and has a huge following among the Chinese in South East Asia, Hong Kong, China and Taiwan...

The prayers are usually for improved health... There are the usual petitions for instant wealth though most people I asked agreed Brahma did not grant wishes unless they were for a specific purpose... If you wish to strike it rich in the casino or 4-digits lottery, this is not the place to ask for favours...

The Dances and Offerings...

Many devotees return year after year to give thanks by cash, donating one of the teak elephants that stand at the back of the wall or commissioning the troupe of Thai classical dancers to pay homage to Brahma... The cost for two dancers is 260 baht (RM25), four dancers 360 baht (RM35), six dancers 610 baht (RM60) and eight dancers 710 baht (RM70)... It costs about 30 baht (under RM3) for a bunch of joss sticks, candles and flowers...

Start your prayers in a clockwise direction as you enter... Pray to each face and repeat your requests... The four faces are the Face of Peace & Health, Face of Harmonious Relationships, Face of Fortune and Face of Protection Against Evil...

A Bit Of History...

The name of this statue is Phra Phrom, the Thai version of the Hindu God Brahma, one of Hinduism’s Holy Trinity... Brahma is the Creator of Life, Vishnu the Preserver of Life and Siva the Destroyer of Life... While Thais call it Phra Phrom, foreigners refer to Erawan Shrine as the home of the Four-Faced Buddha or Four-Faced Brahma...

The original Erawan Shrine was nothing more than a spirit house, one of millions seen in Thailand... That it should evolve into a major centre of pilgrimage and a tourist attraction was the last thing the government-owned Erawan Hotel had in mind when it was being built in 1956... The hotel’s construction was so beset with problems the workers threatened to walk off on various occasions... There were countless mishaps resulting in accidents. The costs were getting out of hand that some wondered if the project should be abandoned... Even a container load of Italian marble and chandeliers vanished into thin air...

Astrologers reminded the authorities the junction was formerly used to put criminals on display... Finally it was concluded the spate of misfortune was due to the foundation stone being laid on the worst date possible...
A statue of the Four-Faced Brahma was recommended to replace the usual spirit house... The statue was designed and completed by the Department of Fine Arts and enshrined on Nov 9, 1956...

True to form, construction continued smoothly... In 1987, Erawan Hotel was demolished to be replaced by the 5-star Grand Hyatt which added Erawan to its name... Erawan is the name of Brahma’s vehicle, the triple-headed elephant...

Destruction and Re-built...

Around 1am on March 21, 2006, a mentally deranged man smashed the hollow statue to smithereens with a hammer, leaving only the base and part of the lap... Two road sweepers on duty chased and beat him to death... Not only did the destruction hit international headlines, it stunned the nation... For days, people came and wept openly by the roadside as the statue was covered with a white cloth...

Many warned ominously that Thailand was entering a dark phase with a convulsive change of government... True enough, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra suffered a coup d’etat seven months later.

The new Brahma statue was made from a special alloy called nawaloha which consisted of nine metals including gold, silver and bronze and remnants of the old statue... The new statue was installed on an auspicious date: May 21, 2006 at precisely 11.39am, the time when the sun was shining directly over the shrine... Another statue, cast from the same mould, is kept in the National Museum...

  • Page Updated Aug 28, 2008
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chiabh

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