The Erawan Shrine in Bangkok has always been popular since I was a kid. The place is highly revered by both locals and foreigners. Millions come here to make a wish every year, making it one of the most popular tourist’s attractions in Thailand.
The origin of this shrine dated back to 1951 when the Erawan hotel (the owner of the Shrine) wanted to build the shrine to combat evils. They say before the establishment of the shrine, the hotel experienced quite a number of misfortunes. A guru said it had something to do with the name Erawan which was the name of a hindu god’s elephant. So, they built this shrine of Brahman, another hindu’s god to counteract and protect the hotel.
Now here is the rub. The Erawan shrine itself is the shrine of Brahman, a hindu’s god. But it is not build to worship Brahman. According to hindu belief, ones should not worship Brahman, and there is one and only one Brahman shrine in India. In Thailand, we establish a shrine with Brahman idol inside to represent a kitchen god. Indeed, the Erawan shrine is meant to be a shrine to worship the spirits that live and protect the Erawan hotel. In fact, during the establishment of the shrine, they actually invite a Thai god, the one that represents all past Thai kings to live inside the shrine. So, most people who visit the Erawan shrine thought they are worshiping Brahman, but it is not really true.
In 2006, the Brahman idol inside the shrine was smashed completely by a mentally ill. A few years later, the new idol was also damaged by a bomb. Nowadays, the junction in front of the shrine is called the junction of five gods. Department stores around the junction has built shrines to worship four others hindu’s gods. The next time you visit there, don’t forget to stop by and visit all the five shrines. It’s a fun activity.