Hindu Symbols In Thailand

By Sanjeev Nayyar [email protected] | 2009

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Erawan shrine ie close to Central World, Chidlam skytrain station . It is a Lord Brahma shrine. Board says it is Thao Maha Brahma. Thai Buddhist tradition associates Lord Brahma with creation. The 4 faces of Brahma represent the Four Divine States of Mind.Brahma has four arms, he holds a lotus flower, his sceptre, his bow parivita, a string of beads, a bowl containing the holy water and the Vedas. He has four heads and is therefore called Chaturanana or Chaturmukha. His vehicle is the swan or goose, the symbol of knowledge. He is thus said to be riding on the swan (hansa-vahana). Lord Brahma known as Phra Phrom in Thailand.

Very close to Erawan shrine on the same side of the road is a small temple dedicated to Lord Indra. In the Siam- Niramit brochure it states `Ascend to Daow-wa-dueng, the second level of heaven, where Indra, the greatest deity of all presides. Thus Vedic God Indra is highly revered in Thailand. Indra`s elephants name is Airavata that you see in the picture. Note that the Indra is holding a Chakra. In India chakra is associated with Lord Vishnu.

Cross the road from Erawan shrine and walk to the Inter Continental Hotel where you see this Garuda and Lord Vishnu`s image. Garuda, a giant bird, is Lord Vishnu`s vehicle and is the national symbol of Thailand. Note Lord Vishnu is holding a chakra here.

Close up image of Garuda at entrance of Wat Suthat, one of the oldest temples in Bangkok that was founded by King Rama I. You see two snakes in hands of Garuda. It is not clear if it is Lord Vishnu who is sitting on Garuda since the image is holding a trishul that in India is associated with Lord Shiva.

Trimurthi shrine is located outside the Central World and it is next to a Ganesha temple. Saw lots of young Thais there. Trimurthi normally refers to trinity of Brahma (creator), Vishnu (sustainer) and Shiva (destroyer). The deity is a gold statue of a human body with two heads and four arms. The heads are one top of the other, the lower head has four faces. The statue is a replica of the original from Ayutthaya. The shrine somehow got associated with granting happiness in romance as it is now very popular with Thais who associate it with the God of love.

Next to Trimurthi shrine is a temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha. Saw Ganesha being worshipped across Thailand.

Opposite the Erawan shrine, placed on the terrace garden of Gaysorn Plaza is a image of Goddess Lakshmi (wealth). You see her in the image. Met a Thai girl who worships the Goddess once a year.

A close up of Goddess Lakshmi.

Close to Wat Suthat is Dhevasathan (Brahmin shrines) that has temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Ganesh. It is commonly called Brahmin Temple. King Rama I ordered temple to be built in 1784 to be used for holding Brahmin rites and ceremonies. In Thailand found the word Brahminism used instead of Hinduism. This temple is evidence that Brahminism mingled into the Thai way of life and its customs and ceremonies from the past to now. You see Ganesh shrine.

Inside the shrine of Narayana. Left to right is Lakshmi, Narayana and Maheswari. Close to Wat Suthat is a new temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There is a Lingam between the Narayana and Ganesh shrines.

Pediment showing the residence of Shiva. This was on the wall of the building that houses the Shiva shrine. The cow that you see below is Nandi.

Next to Wat Suthat is the Giant Swing or Sao Chincha. Its design and original function is suitable to the swinging ceremony held according to the belief of Brahmanism which is well known in ancient Siamese courts. Built in 1784 the original was much smaller. Swinging festival was held for welcoming Lord Siva and Vishnu when they came down to visit the human world in the 2nd lunar month. The festival was part of Triyampanai, a Brahmin ceremony.

This is entrance gopuram at Sri Mariamman temple in Silom. It is dedicated to Goddess Uma, was built by Tamil migrants around 1877. On a Sunday evening I saw a number of Thai`s worshipping the Goddess.

The tuk-tuk driver took me to a shop selling pearls and jewellery. As I walked around saw the Gods in the centre of her office, one of whom is Lord Ganesh. In fact u can see about five to six images of Ganesha.

The walls of the complex of Emerald Buddha all have murals of the Ramayana. During my seven days in Thailand found that Ramayana is an important part of Thai`s culture. It shows Hanuman who made his body into a pathyway and helped the army of Lord Ram to cross over to Sri Lanka and fight the Danavas.

On Sukumwit street came across branch of Bank of Ayudhya or actually Ayodhya. Its symbol is Garuda, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu. Is it not ironic that India, the land of Lord Ram, does not have a bank named after Ayodhya.

You see Seri, a Thai whom I met in the train while returning from the Siam Niramit cultural show. What got me talking to him was the locket of Lord Ganesha that he wore round his neck. I am eternally grateful to him for giving me information about various Hindu symbols in Bangkok.

In the Erawan shrine, you can on payment, have a number of Thai girls perform local Thai dance and pray to Lord Brahma for you. What impressed was their dress. The girls wore a cloth round the waist that resembled a Dhoti and short decorated pants up to the knees. It took some effort to get this girl to let me click her back side - had to explain that I was only interested in the Dhoti look.

You see an image of Lord Ganesh outside Wat Phanancherng, Ayutthaya. This Wat has the oldest large cast bronze Buddha image in Ahutthaya. You see a Thai girl worshipping the Lord before entering the Wat.

Board of Wat Si Sawai, Sukhothai. Reproduce `Its three prangs (imitating Hindu Shikhara Vimanas) as regarded as ancient monuments of considerable significance. A carved lintel depicting Lord Vishnu reclining on the Naga seat, fragments of Hindu images and Linga indicate that this originally a Hindu santuary. King Rama VI found an image of Sayumpu (Siva) in the vihara`.

A picture of Wat Si Sawai.

Board of Ta Pha Daeng Shrine, Sukhothai. Built in Khymer style on a base of lotus molding. During excavation fragments of gods and goddesses with beautiful monuments discovered. This monument is evidence of mixture of Khmer culture and Hinduism in the area around 12th century a.d.

You see a picture of Ta Pha Daeng shrine. Doing Namaste is an ice breaker with Thais. They appreciate and go out of their way to help.

You see an image of Lord Ganesha in Wat Chiang Mun, one of the oldest temples in Chiang Mai.

An image of Garuda at the entrance of Wat Phra Singh, Chiang Mia. This Wat is considered to be one of the most important temples of Chiang Mia. Since the image above Garuda has a trishul not sure if it is Lord Vishnu. On top of Garuda`s head is a kalash and a coconut.

About 15 kms from Chiang Mia city is the highly revered Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep. It has a relic of Lord Buddha. In that temple complex found a Ganesha and the Ashoka lions. The Wat attracts Buddhist piligrims from across the world.

In that Wat are numerous images of Lord Buddha. After praying to one such image met a Monk who sprinkles holy water on men only after which the man that you see in the picture with a white t shirt ties a white thread round your hand. The thread is to ward of evil. In India too we have a similar custom of tying threads although the color differs.

In the same Wat found an image of Goddess of Earth whose image you see. She is shown with sweet water coming out of her head. In India also we consider earth as Mother.

In a Chiang Mia restaurent saw Shesh Shahi Vishnu in stone ie Lord Vishnu who is sleeping in the shadow of a snake.

While walking around the streets of Chiang Mia saw the shop that had these images of Indian Gods. Taken utmost care in writing narrations. In case of errors apologies please mail me.

You see a close up of Wat Arun. At a higher level you see elephant trunks on either side of the picture. There is an image of Lord Indra sitting on the elephants (the Lord`s vehicle is Airavata, an elephant). Wish had taken a close up.

Sagar Manthan at Bangkok Airport. It is a 150-foot-long mural of sagar-manthan, or the mythical churning of the oceans.

A close up view of Lord Vishnu

baord is self explainatory

A side view of ''The scene of the churning of the milk ocean''.