Erawan Shrine

Erawan Shrine
Erawan Shrine

Located on a corner of central Bangkok’s busiest intersections, the shrine is a symbol of faith for thousands and a major tourist attraction. A festival vibe permeates the area. The narrow sidewalks around are choked with flower vendors selling their colourful fragrant merchandise from makeshift wooden stands. In the centre of the iron-fenced area, under a glittering canopy sits a four-faced, four-armed statue of Brahma (or Than Tao Mahaprom to the Thais), the Hindu god of creation. The air is redolent with incense and the strident sound of the ranad ek (Thai xylophone) accompanied by a throbbing drumbeat provides a lively soundtrack for the traditional dancers dressed in colourful outfits and ornamental headgear. Worshippers surround the deity, eyes closed, heads bowed in prayer. Later they burn joss sticks, offer flowers, food and other gifts hoping their petitions for fortune and success in love, career and education will be heard; the ones whose prayers have been buy a traditional dance as a thank you. On the way out they sprinkle themselves with holy water from one of the burnished copper urns that stand in the enclosure.

Erawan Shrine

The shrine was built in 1956 to appease the supposed evil forces that were taking the lives of construction workers and causing other calamities during the construction of the government-owned Erawan Hotel. After being plagued by cost overruns, injuries and death, and even the loss of a shipload of marble, an astrologer was consulted who said that the foundation was laid on an inauspicious date. His advice was to build a shrine to stop the bad karma. After it was built, the hotel construction proceeded unhindered and the shrine earned a reputation as a place where wished were granted. In 1987, the hotel was demolished to make way for what is now the Grand Hyatt Erawan and whose design carefully incorporated the shrine.

Pro-tip: The best vantage point of the shrine is from the elevated SkyTrain walkway, which allows for a great bird’s-eye view photograph.



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