Welcome To My Beloved Country, Thailand part 11

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

I went to Thailand to visit my family for two months, from July and August 2017.  I did not visit home since 2006.  I was glad to see my family.  I enjoyed seeing all new development in Bangkok and loved eating authentic Thai food, especially Thai fruits.

I had a chance to visit my home town, Lopburi, where I was raised when I was young, before we moved to Bangkok.  I traveled to Ayutthaya to see the ruins of temples that were burned by Burmese soldiers, when the Burmese wanted to take over Thailand, The Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767).  Ayutthaya was one of the former capitals of Thailand before moved to, Thonburi and then Bangkok.  I also traveled to, Chiang Mai, located in the Northern part of Thailand.  Chiang Mai is the second largest and second most popular city of Thailand.

John, my husband came to Thailand in August.  He joined me traveling to different part of Thailand.  I had a good time taking videos and photographs wherever I traveled around Bangkok and other part of Thailand.  I hope the viewers of my website will enjoy the photographs that I present in these projects.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Thursday, October 26, 2017

Worshiper at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Erawan Shrine in Bangkok is Brahman, not strictly Buddhist. And yet, this famous shrine attracts more visitors than many of the city’s temples. It was erected during the mid 1950s, after the Thai government had decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel on this location. However, the first stages of the construction were beset with so many problems that superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased. After consultations with astrologers, the erection of a shrine to honour the four-faced Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom, was considered to be an auspicious solution. A magnificent image of the Brahma God was especially cast and gilded, and The Erawan Hotel opened to acclaims and worldwide fame for three decades. Towards the end, the property could not compete with more modern facilities, and was replaced by the privately owned Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok in 1991. As the shrine was originally constructed to grace the old Erawan Hotel, the location became known as the Erawan Shrine.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://www.bangkok.com/shrines/erawan-shrine.htm#

Phra Phrom (The four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Worshippers of the god usually offer incense, candles, jasmine flowers or jasmine garlands and young coconut milk (with water in them) in their worship, usually placing these offerings before all four heads of Phra Phrom, each head representing a different aspect of the deity; it is believed each side of Phra Phrom offers different blessings. Another common way of worship is to place wooden elephant statues on the altar to honor him. Phra Phrom is also known to admire Thai classical music, which is played near larger scale outdoor altars, accompanied by dancers. For a small fee, the dancers include worshiper’s name into the songs they sing while dancing. Worshipers of Phra Phrom are also usually advised to abstain from consuming meat. It is also believed that worshipers have to make good on any promises made to the deity else misfortune will befall them instead of the fortune that was asked for. Items needed for prayers are available in the premises of the shrine.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phra_Phrom

Phra Phrom (The four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Phra Phrom (Thai: ???????; from Sanskrit:Brahma, ??????) is the Thai representation of the Hindu god Brahma (the god of the manifested world),[1] who is regarded in Thai culture as a deity of good fortune and protection. According to puranas, Brahma has four faces representing four Vedas or knowledge coming from four directions: north, south, east and west[2]. Phra Phrom is colloquially known outside Thailand as the Four-Faced Awakening (???, Sìmiànfó) or Four-Faced God (??? Simianshen). Among Chinese folk religious worshipers, among whom the faith of this god has spread in the latest decades by assimilating Brahma as Buddist deva Brahma.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phra_Phrom

Phra Phrom (The four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Spread of the cult among Chinese

As early as the 1980s, the popularity of the Erawan cult of Brahma from its inceptions in Thailand spread, accompanied by faithful reproduction of the structure of the shrine and the image, among overseas Chinese in other countries of Southeast Asia (Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia), in Taiwan, and in China, with shrines established in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Chinese call Brahma colloquially the “Four-Faced Buddha” (??? Simianfo).”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phra_Phrom

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

 “Cultural depictions of elephants

Elephants have been depicted in mythology, symbolism and popular culture. They are both revered in religion and respected for their prowess in war. They also have negative connotations such as being a symbol for an unnecessary burden. Ever since the stone age, when elephants were represented by ancient petroglyphs and cave art, they have been portrayed in various forms of art, including pictures, sculptures, music, film, and even architecture.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

 “The Asian elephant appears in various religious traditions and mythologies. They are treated positively and are sometimes revered as deities, often symbolising strength and wisdom. Similarly, the African elephant is seen as the wise chief who impartially settles disputes among the forest creatures in African fables,[2] and the Ashanti tradition holds that they are human chiefs from the past.[3]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“The Earth is supported and guarded by mythical World Elephants at the compass points of the cardinal directions, according to the Hindu cosmology of ancient India. The classical Sanskrit literature also attributes earthquakes to the shaking of their bodies when they tire. Wisdom is represented by the elephant in the form of the deity Ganesh, one of the most popular gods in the Hindu religion‘s pantheon. Sometimes known as Ganesha, this deity is very distinctive in having a human form with the head of an elephant. This was put on after the human head was either was cut off or burned, depending on the version of the story from various Hindu sources. Lord Ganesha’s birthday (rebirth) is celebrated as the Hindu festival known as Ganesha Chaturthi.[4] In Japanese Buddhism, their adaptation of Ganesha is known as Kangiten (“Deva of Bliss”), often represented as an elephant-headed male and female pair shown in a standing embrace to represent unity of opposites.[5]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“In Hindu iconography, many devas are associated with a mount or vehicle known as a v?hana. In addition to providing a means of transport, they symbolically represent a divine attribute. The elephant v?hana represents wisdom, divine knowledge and royal power; it is associated with Lakshmi, Brihaspati, Shachi and Indra. Indra was said to ride on a flying white elephant named Airavata, who was made the King of all elephants by Lord Indra. A white elephant is rare and given special significance. It is often considered sacred and symbolises royalty in Thailand and Burma, where it is also considered a symbol of good luck. In Buddhist iconography, the elephant is associated with Queen M?y? of Sakya, the mother of Gautama Buddha. She had a vivid dream foretelling her pregnancy in which a white elephant featured prominently.[6] To the royal sages, the white elephant signifies royal majesty and authority; they interpreted the dream as meaning that her child was destined for greatness as a universal monarch or a buddha.[7]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Elephants remain an integral part of religion in South Asia and some are even featured in various religious practices.[8] Temple elephants are specially trained captive elephants that are lavishly caparisoned and used in various temple activities. Among the most famous of the temple elephants is Guruvayur Keshavan of Kerala, India. They are also used in festivals in Sri Lanka such as the Esala Perahera.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“In the version of the Chinese zodiac used in Northern Thailand, the last year in the 12-year cycle – called “Year of the Pig” in China – is known instead as “Year of the Elephant”, reflecting the importance of elephants in Thai culture.

In Islamic tradition, the year 570 is when the Prophet Muhammad was born and is known as the Year of the Elephant.[9] In that year, Abraha, ruler of Yemen tried to conquer Mecca and demolish the Kaaba, reportedly in retaliation for the previous Meccan defilement of Al–Qalis Church in Sana’a, a cathedral Abraha had constructed.[10] However, his plan was foiled when his white elephant named Mahmud refused to cross the boundary of Mecca. The elephant, who led Abraha’s forty thousand men, could not be persuaded with reason or even with violence, which was regarded as a crucial omen by Abraha’s soldiers. This is generally related in the five verses of the chapter titled ‘The Elephant[b] in the Quran.[11]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

Elephant Statues used as adornment at the Worship of Phra Phrom (the four-faced Brahma God) at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“In the Judeo-Christian tradition, medieval artists depicted the mutual killing of both Eleazar the Maccabee and a war elephant carrying an important Seleucid general as described in the apocryphal book of 1 Maccabees. The early illustrators knew little of the elephant and their portrayals are highly inaccurate.[12]

The unfamiliarity with the exotic beast has also made elephants a subject of widely different interpretations thus giving rise to mythological creatures. The story of the blind men and an elephant was written to show how reality may be viewed from differing perspectives. The source of this parable is unknown, but it appears to have originated in India. It has been attributed to Buddhists, Hindus, Jainists, and Sufis, and was also used by Discordians. The scattered skulls of prehistoric dwarf elephants, on the islands of Crete and Sicily may have formed the basis of belief in existence of cyclopes,[c] the one-eyed giants featured in Homer‘s Odyssey (c. 800~600 BC). As early as the 1370s, scholars had noted that the skulls feature a large nasal cavity at the front that could be mistaken for a singular eye socket;[13] and the skulls, twice the size of a human’s, looked as if they could belong to giant humanoids.[13][14] It is also suggested that the Behemoth described in the Book of Job may be the elephant due to its grazing habits and preference to rivers.[15]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_elephants

The worshipers pay the dancers to dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

“Than Tao Mahaprom is a Brahma god, full of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. These four virtues are represented by his four faces, each radiating serene grace. Since Buddhism in Thailand has always been influenced by the Brahma beliefs, he made an immediate impact. Nowadays, as has been the case for years, unending streams of people pay respects from early morning till late at night. Thais, and even foreign visitors, make ceremonial offerings from floral garlands, fruits to teakwood elephants in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled. Judging from the flowing multitude of believers, for many those wishes were indeed granted. Cash contributions are managed by a foundation who distributes funds regularly to various charitable organisations and equipment for needy hospitals in the provinces. To feel the aura of reverence while watching the joyful celebration of a graceful Thai Classical Dance troupe or a lively Chinese Lion Dance is an experience to be added to your many memories of exotic Bangkok.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://www.bangkok.com/shrines/erawan-shrine.htm#

RATE FOR DANCING

NUMBER OF DANCERS                         AMOUNT OF MONEY

8                                                        710 BAHTS (ABOUT $24)

6                                                        610 BAHTS (ABOUT $20)

4                                                        360 BAHTS (ABOUT $12)

2                                                        260 BAHTS (ABOUT $9.70)

Ing’s comments,

How we are taught to believe:

This person just bought a small cage that keeps the life birds for sale.  She is going to free the birds. 

She is freeing the birds in a small cage.  She probably prays or wish that her trouble will go away or wish for her good fortune.  I just hope that the poor birds will not get trapped again to be in the same confinement from the poor low-income people who captured them.  However, I am not sure, it might be a rich person who traps the birds and distributes them for sale to different locations for the believers to buy birds to free for their wishes or some kind of merit. 

I probably would do the same if I were live in Thailand.  People tend to do the same as other people in one’s own social believe, until someone points out and tells you to analyze the situation.  Then you may see a different view point, or you may not.  But staying outside of one own society for a period of time, one has a chance to look back, and allow yourself to think more about what we are taught to believe.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Monday, November 13, 2017

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Welcome To My Beloved Country, Thailand part 10

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

I went to Thailand to visit my family for two months, from July and August 2017.  I did not visit home since 2006.  I was glad to see my family.  I enjoyed seeing all new development in Bangkok and loved eating authentic Thai food, especially Thai fruits.

I had a chance to visit my home town, Lopburi, where I was raised when I was young, before we moved to Bangkok.  I traveled to Ayutthaya to see the ruins of temples that were burned by Burmese soldiers, when the Burmese wanted to take over Thailand, The Burmese–Siamese War (1765–1767).  Ayutthaya was one of the former capitals of Thailand before moved to, Thonburi and then Bangkok.  I also traveled to, Chiang Mai, located in the Northern part of Thailand.  Chiang Mai is the second largest and second most popular city of Thailand.

John, my husband came to Thailand in August.  He joined me traveling to different part of Thailand.  I had a good time taking videos and photographs wherever I traveled around Bangkok and other part of Thailand.  I hope the viewers of my website will enjoy the photographs that I present in these projects.

Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts, Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“The shrine is located by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, at the Ratchaprasong intersection of Ratchadamri Road in Pathum Wan district. It is near the Bangkok Skytrain‘s Chitlom Station, which has an elevated walkway overlooking the shrine. The area has many shopping malls nearby, including Gaysorn, CentralWorld and Amarin Plaza.

Five other shrines dedicated to Hindu deities are located in the area as well: Phra Laksami (Lakshmi), Phra Trimurati (Trimurti), Phra Khanet (Ganesha), Phra In (Indra), and Phra Narai Song Suban (Narayana on his garuda).[2][3][4]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erawan_Shrine

The Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“The Erawan Shrine was built in 1956 as part of the government-owned Erawan Hotel to eliminate the bad karma believed caused by laying the foundations on the wrong date.

The hotel’s construction was delayed by a series of mishaps, including cost overruns, injuries to laborers, and the loss of a shipload of Italian marble intended for the building. Furthermore, the Ratchaprasong intersection had once been used to put criminals on public display.

An astrologer advised building the shrine to counter the negative influences. The Brahma statue was designed and built by the Department of Fine Arts and enshrined on 9 November 1956. The hotel’s construction thereafter proceeded without further incident.[5] In 1987, the hotel was demolished and the site used for the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel.[6]

The Worshipers at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Erawan Shrine in Bangkok is Brahman, not strictly Buddhist. And yet, this famous shrine attracts more visitors than many of the city’s temples. It was erected during the mid 1950s, after the Thai government had decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel on this location. However, the first stages of the construction were beset with so many problems that superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased. After consultations with astrologers, the erection of a shrine to honour the four-faced Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom, was considered to be an auspicious solution. A magnificent image of the Brahma God was especially cast and gilded, and The Erawan Hotel opened to acclaims and worldwide fame for three decades. Towards the end, the property could not compete with more modern facilities, and was replaced by the privately owned Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok in 1991. As the shrine was originally constructed to grace the old Erawan Hotel, the location became known as the Erawan Shrine.”

The worshipers pay the dancers to dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Than Tao Mahaprom is a Brahma god, full of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. These four virtues are represented by his four faces, each radiating serene grace. Since Buddhism in Thailand has always been influenced by the Brahma beliefs, he made an immediate impact. Nowadays, as has been the case for years, unending streams of people pay respects from early morning till late at night. Thais, and even foreign visitors, make ceremonial offerings from floral garlands, fruits to teakwood elephants in the hope that their wishes will be fulfilled. Judging from the flowing multitude of believers, for many those wishes were indeed granted. Cash contributions are managed by a foundation who distributes funds regularly to various charitable organisations and equipment for needy hospitals in the provinces. To feel the aura of reverence while watching the joyful celebration of a graceful Thai Classical Dance troupe or a lively Chinese Lion Dance is an experience to be added to your many memories of exotic Bangkok.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://www.bangkok.com/shrines/erawan-shrine.htm#

The Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

“Dance in Thailand (Thai: ????? ram Thai) is the main dramatic art form of Thailand. Thai dance, like many forms of traditional Asian dance, can be divided into two major categories that correspond roughly to the high art (classical dance) and low art (folk dance) distinction.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_in_Thailand

The Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thai classical dance drama include khon, lakhon, and fon Thai.

The first detailed European record of khon and other Thai classical dances was made during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. The tradition and styles employed are almost identical to the Thai traditions we still see today. Historical evidence establishes that the Thai art of stage plays were already perfected by the 17th century. Louis XIV, the Sun King of France, had a formal diplomatic relation with Ayutthaya’s King Narai. In 1687, France sent the diplomat Simon de la Loubère to record all that he saw in the Siamese Kingdom and its traditions. In his famous account Du Royaume de Siam, La Loubère carefully observed the classic 17th century theatre of Siam, including an epic battle scene from a khon performance, and recorded what he saw in great detail:[1]:4”

The Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

“The Siamese have three sorts of Stage Plays: That which they call Cone [khon] is a figure dance, to the sound of the violin and some other instruments. The dancers are masked and armed, and represent rather a combat than a dance. And though everyone runs into high motions, and extravagant postures, they cease not continually to intermix some word. Most of their masks are hideous, and represent either monstrous Beasts, or kinds of Devils. The Show which they call Lacone is a poem intermix with Epic and Dramatic, which lasts three days, from eight in the morning till seven at night. They are histories in verse, serious, and sung by several actors always present, and which do only sing reciprocally…. The Rabam is a double dance of men and women, which is not martial, but gallant … they can perform it without much tyring themselves, because their way of dancing is a simple march round, very slow, and without any high motion; but with a great many slow contortions of the body and arms.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_in_Thailand

A Worshiper and the Thai Classical dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thai classical dance drama include khon, lakhon, and fon Thai.

Of the attires of Siamese khon dancers, La Loubère recorded that: “[T]hose that dance in Rabam, and Cone, have gilded paper-bonnets, high and pointed, like the Mandarins caps of ceremony, but which hang down at the sides below their ears, which are adorned with counterfeit stones, and with two pendants of gilded wood.”[1]:49

La Loubère also observed the existence of muay Thai and muay Lao, noting that they looked similar (i.e., using both fists and elbows to fight), but the hand-wrapping techniques were different.[1]:49

The accomplishment and influence of Thai art and culture, developed during the Ayutthaya Period, on neighboring countries was evident in the observation of Captain James Low, a British scholar of Southeast Asia, during the early Rattanakosin Era:

“The Siamese have attained to a considerable degree of perfection in dramatic exhibitions — and are in this respect envied by their neighbours the Burmans, Laos, and Cambojans who all employ Siamese actors when they can be got.”[2]

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_in_Thailand

The musicians and the Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thai classical dance drama include khon, lakhon, and fon Thai.

Khon is the most stylized form of Thai dance. It is performed by troupes of non-speaking dancers, the story being told by a chorus at the side of the stage. Choreography follows traditional models rather than attempting to innovate. Most khon performances feature episodes from the Ramakien. Costumes are dictated by tradition, with angels, both good and bad, wearing coloured masks.”

A Worshiper and the Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

“Thai classical dance drama include khon, lakhon, and fon Thai.

Lakhon

Main articles: Lakhon nai, Lakhon chatri, and Lakhon nok

Lakhon features a wider range of stories than khon, including folk tales and Jataka stories. Dancers are usually female and perform as a group rather than representing individual characters.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_in_Thailand

The Thai Classical dancers dance for the Brahma God at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thai classical dance drama include khon, lakhon, and fon Thai.

Fon (Thai: ????; rtgsfon) is a form of folk dance accompanied by the folk music of the region. The first fon originated in the northern region of Thailand. It was designed and taught by Chao Dararasami of Chiang Mai. Since then, a variety of fon came into practice, featuring the music and style of each province, such as the fon lep (Thai: ????????; rtgsfon lep) fingernail dance from Chiang Mai, fon ngiew from Chiang Rai with the influence of Burmese music and costume.

Fon Thai is divided into three types:

  • Fon lep (fingernail dance): A northern Thai dance style. Each dancer wears six inch long brass fingernails. The long fingernails accentuate the finger movement of each dancer. Dancers wear their hair in a chignon-style with a yellow jasmine flower tiara.
  • Fon tian (candle dance): A performance consists of eight dancers, each carrying candles. Dancers are in pairs, one pair to each side. They wear full-length sarongs and jackets with a matching shoulder cloth. This dance is always held at night.
  • Fon ngiew (scarf dance): A dance performed at a happy event. The dance is similar to the fon lep but the dance is faster and more fun. Each dancer wears a yellow flower tiara, jong kra bane, and sabai.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_in_Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

The Thai musicians perform at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thailand Instruments

There are many different varieties of Instruments from Thailand. They have 3 families of instruments, the wind, percussion, and string instruments. There are 2 main types of string instruments, plucked and bowed. The Percussion family is separated into 3 main groups, the drums, keyboards, and gongs or cymbals. Also, many Thai instruments are very similar, just in different sizes to produce higher or lower pitches.

The Ranat Ek has a similar look to xylophones. The keys from the ranad ek do not touch the base of the instrument, but rather hang over it, similar to a suspension bridge. The keys are wooden, and are different sizes in order to make different sounds.”

Welcome To My Beloved Country, Thailand

Photograph by Ing-On Vibulbhan-Watts

The Thai musicians perform at the Erawan Shrine, Bangkok, Thailand

“Thailand Instruments

The Taphon is a percussion instrument that is often found in a percussion ensemble called a piphat. The Taphon has two heads, and is shaped like a barrel. It is played with your hands, not with mallets. Many taphons have designs woven into the middle of the barrel.”

For more information please visit the following link:

https://thailandmusicproject.weebly.com/thailand-instruments.html

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