There are spirits both good and bad lurking everywhere and in everything. Everything has had a previous existence and is destined for another. That bird flying past, for example, may well have been your Grandma in a previous existence.
Every action you make, every step you take, every gesture of kindness or its opposite you make...is all part of the great intricate tapestry of this colourful, complex, contradictory, unfathomable culture of Thailand.
We were visiting the Kham Chanot Temple which is about 100 kilometres north east of Udon Thani, the fourth largest Thai City.
This is a temple dedicated to and dominated by Nagas.
What is a Naga other than a type of chili?
There are three main Hindu gods. Vishnu, Brahma and Shiva. Vishnu rides on a Garuda as his means of transport. A Garuda is a winged creature that has characteristics of an eagle, enormous talongs and is BIG!!
Garudas hate Nagas. They are always fighting. Nagas are serpent like creatures...they too are BIG! The King of the Nagas has seven heads and guards the Buddha. (If you are born on a Saturday, your protective spirit will be the seven headed Naga). The Buddha is often sitting on a coiled Naga.
Nagas guard all the Temples are are seen on stairways leading into the Temples. They like water and live in lakes and rivers. The gods and demons used a giant Naga in a tug of war to churn up the ocean and create the Sea of Milk from which all the planets and everything in the universe emanated....so..you can see that they are pretty important!!
There is a wonderful sense of community and it is heartwarming to see so many people chanting together and sharing in their beliefs in such an open and friendly way. You can see that Thai people are proud of their 'religious' culture although many would argue that Buddhism is a Philosophy and not a religion.
Yes...there are so many apparent contradictions to the western eye...but that's what travelling to another country is all about...to observe and marvel at other cultures. We might be able to understand little bits of what is going on and the more one visits here the more of the complex jigsaw appears to fit together.
And now we shift from the offerings of flowers, fruits, eggs, Nagas etc etc and get down to the fun side of what the Temple is about. This is a temple that will reveal the National lottery numbers! As we know, the Chinese love to have a wager or two. The Chinese have a massive influence on Thailand and have passed on their love of gambling to their descendants, the Thai. The tree roots (shown below) can reveal the National Lotto numbers!! Powder must be rubbed into the roots and low and behold, numbers will appear and will be seen only by the person doing the rubbing!!
The higher the stone he is lifting can be lifted the more positive the response. There are two stones. They are pretty heavy. The elderly lady to the burly gentleman's left couldn't budge hers...so I imagine men get a lot more of the positive answer they seek. If the stone cannot be lifted then the answer is an emphatic 'No'!!
|And then there is always the 'Holy/Lucky Water'. This is obtained from a special pool and then dabbed or even poured over one's head or other parts of the body. It was a hot day...the cooling water was most welcome!|
Here on a table is one family's offering...it's pretty big. The most lavish offerings are made by the Chinese....the Thais don't have the money!
I am really consistent. I have stroked gongs all over Thailand and I have NEVER managed to get even a whimper from any of them...and that is despite observing many successful techniques from different parts of the country.
This was a great visit.
I did not see even one other 'Westerner' there...it was all Thais, Chinese and a few Koreans.
This was definitely a place to people watch as it was by observing their behaviour that the mysteries of this particular temple were revealed.
Another piece of the complicated jigsaw fell into place!