The Erawan Shrine is a modern Hindu monument which stands next to Bangkok’s Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. One of Thailand’s most popular tourist attractions, it features a representation of Phra Phrom, the Thai manifestation of Brahma. Dancers are sometimes paid by those worshiping here as this is considered to increase the chances of prayers being answered.
History of the Shrine
While the Erawan Hotel was being built during the 1950’s its construction suffered from a number of problems. These ranged from budgeting failures to injuries of the builders. Most seriously, an entire ship carrying marble from Italy was lost. In response to what was seen as the effects of bad karma, the Thai government was advised to sponsor the building of a shrine at the hotel complex in 1956.
The country’s Fine Arts Department was responsible for the design and erection of the statue of Brahma, which was completed in November of 1956. From that point on, the difficulties the hotel had faced ceased. When the original hotel was knocked down in 1987, to make way for the present Hyatt, the shrine was retained.
The shrine was vandalized in March of 2006 by a man who smashed the statue with a hammer. A little while later, he was killed by an angry mob. After a short period of closure, the shrine reopened, with a white cloth concealing the site of the statue. Instead, photographs of its former state were provided. A replacement statue was enshrined two months after the original’s destruction.
The incident became a significant factor in the political turmoil that was gripping Bangkok at the time. Some prominent opposition figures alleged that the crime had been orchestrated by Thaksin Shinawatra, the under-fire Thai prime minister. People said that he was using magic to hold on to power. However, the father of the perpetrator told newspapers that this was a lie.