Sunday, January 16, 2011

Erawan Shrine

Fondly known as Phra Phrom the Erawan (Brahma) Shrine is the most famous and highly revered of all deities in Ratchaprsong and attracts millions of visitors each year.
 Brahma was originally erected in 1958 during the construction of the Erawan Hotel – now the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok – because the property’s spirit house wasn’t able to appease spirits disrupted by the building work. Spiritual advisors suggested building a shrine dedicated to the four-headed image of Brahma, and since its investiture, Phra Phrom has become renowned for bringing good fortune.

In Hindu belief, The Lord Brahma, the creator, is one of the three holiest of gods. He has four faces, which symbolise all directions: north, south, east and west, which allow him to oversee and protect both the mortal and immortal worlds. He is known for his good disposition, his cool temper and ability to answer all the prayers of his faithful visitors.

The name Erawan comes from the god Indra’s 33-headed elephant, which is normally depicted with three heads. When Phra Phrom grants a wish worshippers thank the spirits by commissioning the classical dancers and musicians to perform.
In early hours of March 21, 2006, Phra Phrom was irreparably vandalised by a man believed to be mentally ill. A replacement Brahma statue was created in close observance of religious principles, guided by Buddhist monks and Brahmin priests. Many of gilded precious metals, the new statue contains pieces of the original and was primed with black lacquer before being covered with gold leaf. A replica of this statue is houses at the National Museum to serve as a model for future conservation and restoration of Phra Phrom.

Erawan Shrine is open from 6:00am to 11:00pm daily. As with all temples in Thailand, it is required for guests to pay particular attention to their clothing. To be on the safe side, avoid shorts, sleeveless tops and open-toe shoes. It is highly recommended to cover your shoulders and knees.

There are generally two ways to pay your respects at the shrine: making offering and commissioning the dancers. The cost of one dance performance is Baht 260 for two dancers; Baht360 for four, Baht 610 for six and Baht 710 for eight. Proceeds are donated to the Thao Maha Phrom Foundation.
Stalls surrounding the Erawan Shrine sell “offering sets” which usually include 12 incense sticks, four candles, four jasmine and marigold garlands and four pieces of gold leaf. The price is one set if between Baht 20-50, depending on how many items you buy. To present the offering, stand with your back to the main entrance of the shrine and walk around in a clockwise direction. Offer three incense sticks, one dandle, one garland and a piece of gold leaf to each face of Lord Brahma.
Getting there: The easiest way [taking into consideration abysmal traffic] from the Siam City Hotel is to take the BTS from Phayathai station three stops to station Chit Lom. From there take Exit 2 and walk 100 metres towards Ratchadamri intersection, the shrine is on your left-hand side.

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