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Bangkok, Thailand

Erawan Shrine

A shrine built to combat the bad karma of a commercial venture. 

At the advice of a respected astrologer, the Erawan Shrine was built in 1956 around the same time as the construction of a nearby hotel to eliminate the bad karma believed to be caused by laying the foundations on an inauspicious date. 

Unhappy spirits were believed to be responsible for delaying the hotel’s construction by injuring the laborers and causing the loss of a shipment of Italian marble intended for the building. To add to the cacophony of angry ghosts swarming around the Ratchaprasong intersection, the government had historically executed criminals in the same place. A Hindu shrine was seen as a solution, and the hotel plans were modified to accommodate the devotional site. The shrine is named for Erawan, the Thai name for the white elephant who carries a Hindu god, but the focus of the site is the golden statue of the four-faced Brahma, Phra Phrom.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all peaceful good times at the shrine from then on. In 2006, a man later judged to be mentally unstable attacked the Brahma with a hammer. He was subsequently beaten to death by an angry mob. In 2015, a bomb at the shrine killed 20 and injured 125. It is suspected to have been planted by Turkish nationalists in response to the deportation of Turkish prisoners. Since then the statue and the shrine have been restored.

You can see local Thais making merit to the statue with garlands, incense, candles, and even birds, and see a troupe of Thai classical dancers in costume.

Contributed by
Kevin Lo
Edited by