Bangkok’s renowned Erawan Shrine is one of the Thai capital’s most visited shrines, revered by local devotees and also one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok. Thousands of the faithful congregate at the shrine to perform religious rites and attend prayers. Of particular interest to tourists are the vibrant dances performed at the site by accomplished dance troupes, which are hired by local devotees as a show of gratitude to the deities for granting their prayers.
The shrine was created in the 1950s by the Thai government following the commencement of construction of a luxury hotel at the site. The construction work was plagued by so many problems that the superstitious workers refused to proceed with the work. An eminent astrologer was consulted, who suggested that a shrine be built to honour the Hindu deity Lord Brahma. ‘Erawan’ refers to the mythical celestial three-headed elephant which is said to be the mount of Indra, or sometimes Brahma.
After an unfortunate act of vandalism in 2006, a new statue of the deity was crafted in plaster, bronze, gold and other valuable metals to occupy pride of place at the shrine. The four-faced statue remains one of Bangkok’s most iconic images. The local faithful make offerings of incense, garlands of flowers, fruits and even teak wood elephants to the statue, beseeching the fulfillment of their wishes. The immense reverence accorded to the statue is demonstrated by the sight of Thais bowing as they pass the shrine by taxi, bus or skytrain.