I hope that the introduction post of May the Force be With You will give you a little insight that Animistic beliefs are still widely practiced in Laos. As for our neighboring country Thailand, they also share this belief because Buddhism in Thailand is also closely tied to animist beliefs and belief in ancestral spirits. I found an interesting article from Koosang Koosom Magazine written by the mother of Nong Mou-Nong Mot from Maha Sarakham, Thailand that I like to share, this story will make you think twice before making a wish. This article is written in Thai language, translated by Nye.
Going back to 1990 (Thai year 2533), my husband and I were working in Krung Thep at the time, I was 3 months pregnant with my first child, my husband was ecstatic and so he went to visit the Erawan Shrine at the 4-intersection of Ratchaprasong to ask for a son. Then the day of my delivery came and we had a son just like he asked, my husband and I were very happy. We went back to give offering to Thunthou Phra Phrom Erawan (Erawan Statue), we did everything that we promised if our wish were granted. But one thing that we didn‘t do was to bring our son to pay respect to Thuntou Phra Phrom Erawan, not even once.
This was because my sons were raised by my parents in another town, they were good kids, easy to raise and I had 2 sons, the oldest was born in 1990 (2533), and the second in 1992 (2535), this one we didn’t ask for. Then in 1998 (2541), we moved back home since the boys were getting older and about time that we lived as a family. I kept thinking that I want to bring my sons to pay respect to Thunthou Phra Phrom Erawan, especially my oldest son, but since I was busy working, trying to make ends meet, and could never find the time.
During school breaks, my sons would help us at the clothing store in town to earn extra income, I worked there as a head cashier, and would get off work at 8 pm, and it’s considered late in the rural area, we did this for several years. My sons were good kids, they helped with household chores, including helping out in the rice paddy. I taught them not to forget their roots, the trade that has been passed down for many generations, we’d help each other farming during our day off, and hired out the things that we couldn’t do ourselves. Who said that having a son the mother has to do all the work, I say not true at all because ever since they were in the 5th and 6th grade, I didn’t have to wash dishes, nor clean the house because my sons did it all, they felt sorry for their mom that I had to work so late.
I was very happy and proud of my sons, but my happiness short-lived because in 2008 (2551), my oldest son had a late class and wouldn’t get out until 7 pm, he called to ask if he could stay at his friend’s dorm, I didn’t mind and only asked him not to disappoint his mom. He promised that he wouldn’t, and that was the last time that we spoke.
After I got off from work, I went straight home, and went to bed at my normal time. I woke up at 4 am when my younger sister came banging at my door and told me that my oldest son was dead and the police called for me to go pickup his body. I was in a state of shock and didn’t know what to do, all I knew was that I wanted to go see my son. My mind didn’t register anything else, it was a good thing that my younger sister came with me, she had to tell me what to do, all I knew was that my son passed away early that morning.
He left this earth without being a burden to anyone, he was in a motorcycle accident where he hit a light pole, no other vehicle was involved and no witness, only when the police got there, they saw that he was dead. His body didn’t appear to have any scratch or injury, very much like he was asleep, my son was still handsome dead as he was alive, still smiling, still laughing for his mom as always.
At his funeral, people came from near and far to help, makes you wonder why there were so many people attending when it was only a teenager’s funeral. It might be because he was sent from above, the son of Phra Phrom Erawan, and he was taken back too soon. After he passed away is when I knew that I should have done something sooner, and this could have been prevented.
It is belief that who ever asked for a child from a sacred place, you’ve to bring that child back to pay respect, telling the high being that his son has arrived, and that way he could help protect. I hope this is a lesson to others, don’t let your family be like mine.
No matter how sad I am to have lost my oldest son, but I’m happy that I had the opportunity to raise him for 18 years and 79 days, plus I still have another son to provide for, life goes on.
[…] Be Careful if You Asked for a Child From a Sacred Place […]
sometimes, we have to believe this… everytime i pass by erawan shrine nomatter on the BTS or walking, i just Wai and wish that i could have a good day…
eerenoon, I think believing is very powerful in the mind, and there is that mysterious unknown force that can work for or against you. I’m always humbled when I’m at a sacred place, just like the saying that if you don’t believe, don’t mock and I think this holds true here.
That’s right!!! Be careful what you asked for:-). My folks had done similar wishes in the past. Back in the late 80’s, my dad was diagnosed with spinal cord decompression and doctors didn’t think he’ll ever walk again. My mom pray to our ancestors, especially my grandpa(dad’s father) to help and protect my dad through difficulty surgeries. One of the thing that mom said in her pray was… Once my dad recover, she promises to “het boun and buad” for my grandpa. My dad recover well from very long surgery and after 11 months he was back on his feet again. A year and half after his surgery, my parents and I took the trip back to Laos. I became a monk for 2 weeks as my mom promised 1 1/2 years earlier. I am a true believer of an animistic phenomena. 🙂
seeharhed, it’s a good thing that you didn’t object to the idea, many people now a day will not Buad for their parents, some event think it’s ridiculous. Our family never did anything like that before, but back in the days, instead of taking someone to court over a dispute matter, they would dare you to drink the sacred water in front of a sacred place, “nam Sabarn” and bad consequences will happen to those that weren’t telling the truth or dishonest, I think some still practice till this day. Also commonly practice amongst lovers that something bad would happen to them if they don’t keep their promise, I just think that people shouldn’t be messing with stuff like this.
Have you seen the movie “Coffin” ?? It’s like asking for cure for yourself or other someone else end up dead or serious illness.
Salalao, I’ve not seen that movie yet, but kind of scary to think that someone would take your fall or vice versa. I think there are many cultures that share this mysterious beliefs like ours, sometimes I think it’s like walking on thin line, you can easily slipped to the dark side.
I do believed in it just a little. My sister has been marry for 12yrs. she is unable to concieved and went throught many invtro ferilization and still unsucessful. 5 yrs ago she went back to Laos and went to many of the sacred temples to ask for a child. Two years later she has a little boy. Last December I went home and I have to do some ceremony to all the wats for her something like “gae buc” I flew from Lunag Prabang to Vietaine and Champasak to Wat Phou you name it. I spent all my three weeks “tum boon”
Regardless, I got a beautiful nephew, who loves to eat just Laos food. He’s half and half !!
salalao, I’ve heard of people doing that, and most are successful. I hope your sister will get to take her son to visit Laos one day, I’m sure he’d love it there, especially the Lao food. The video that I saw at your vimeo awhile back, is that your nephew? I thought that was you and your baby. 🙂
wow, how heart breaking! thanks for the story Nye!!
mozemoua, yeah, kind of sad, but made me wonder if it were not a foul play, that he might have died elsewhere and they disposed his body to make it look like an accident, I don’t know if they did the autopsy or not.
Phra Phrom in fact is the Hindu God Brahma who is the patron lord of Creation and Brahmins. Erawan is Airavata or the multi tusked white elephant of lord Indra. Lord Brahma is an important entity in the Hindu trinity, others being Vishnu the Preserver (Phra Narai in Thai) & Shiva – the destroyer.
Interestingly, Lord Brahma is no longer actively worshiped in India. According to Indian scriptures, when the holy trinity were engaged in a scuffle over each others supremacy, Lord shiva transformed himself into gigantic lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva). The lingam was made of fire and it extended from the heaven to the underworld. The lingam told both Brahma and Vishnu that if any of them could find the end of the lingam, He will be declared as the greater of the two. Both Brahma and Vishnu agreed to the deal and set out in opposite directions of the lingam to find its end. But as they kept searching for years, they realized that the lingam had no end. Vishnu realized the fact that Shiva was the greatest among the Trinity. But Brahma decided to trick Shiva. While he was on the search of the end, he passed the flower of Ketaki ( Frangipani) at the uppermost part of the lingam. He requested the Ketaki flower to testify before Shiva that Brahma had reached the uppermost part of the lingam and had seen the end. The Ketaki flower agreed. When brought before Shiva, the flower falsely testified that Brahma had seen the end. Lord Shiva became furious at this lie. He then cursed Brahma that He would never be worshiped by any human being. He also cursed the Ketaki flower that it would not be used in any Hindu ritual. Hence, Brahma was cursed not to be worshiped by anyone.
More about Brahma, On the Island of Java lord Brahma has his abode on Mount Bromo – a volcanic caldera. Legend has it that a couple named Roro Anteng and Joko Seger remained childless after many years of marriage. Therefore they meditated atop Mount Bromo, beseeching the mountain gods for assistance. The gods granted them 24 children on the condition that the 25th child must be thrown into the volcano as human sacrifice. The gods’ request was observed, and so the tradition of offering sacrifices thrown into the volcano to appease the deities continues until today, but, of course, with no sacrifices of humans. Instead, today chickens, goats and vegetables are thrown into the crater as sacrifice.
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