Thai Taxi Altars & Talismans

In Thailand, a taxi ride may be an introduction to Thai culture and belief. Hence, it might even become a kind of religious experience regarding all the sacred objects and talismans that Thai taxi drivers arrange on their dashboard altars.

Thai Taxi Altars & Talismans

Amulets as blessings on the road*

Amulets as blessings on the road*

You may aks yourself the reason for these talismans. Well, since the majority of Thai people are Buddhist, they believe in karma and that each person’s fate is predertermined by previous actions. In other words, this means that what happens to a person, happens because they have caused it with their actions.

A typical yet unusual combination of talismans and mascots in a Bangkok taxi*

A typical yet unusual combination of talismans and mascots in a Bangkok taxi*

Thus, Thai people to some extent believe that safety, driver’s skills and speed are not necessarily related to the probability of having an accident. In other words, if someone becomes a victim in an car accident it is because of his negative karma that has finally caused this result. Strange as it may seem to a rational Westerner, the fate of a taxi might be influenced by the spirits of the passengers that ride in it.

Thai Taxi Altars: Too much is never enough*

Thai Taxi Altars: More is More*

Therefore, on the one hand Thai taxi drivers turn to pok pong which is magic or spiritual protection against danger and harm and pong gun, on the other hand, to avoid accidents by minding practical safety measures such as wearing seat-belts and helmets.

On the road with Buddha*

On the road with Buddha’s protection*

Nonetheless, pok pong plays an essential role to counter the negative influences radiated from the passengers. Thus, taxi drivers transform their cabbies into spiritual life insurances: they decorate their dashboards with numerous talismans and amulets. To bless their car, some drivers have a Yantra drawn by a monk on the ceiling.

Yantra painted on the ceiling of a cab*

Yantra painted on the ceiling of a cab*

Many drivers also hang Thai flower garlands and amulets on the rearview mirror to honour the journey goddess Mae Yanang. The dashboard may also harbour Buddha statues and pictures of enlightened monks and royal images that are considered auspicious.

Flower garlands for blessing the journey goddes Mae Yanang*

Flower garlands for blessing the journey goddess Mae Yanang*

Sometimes not only the inside of a taxi is decorated but also the outside. Thus, Taxi drivers may customise their cars with mascots, stickers, lamps and flags. They also serve as protections against negative karma. But well, finally it’s all about driving good and safe 🙂 Thus, ‘Kup rod dee dee’ whereever you go!

In a nutshell, we can say that Thai taxi altars & talsimans are really special since they reveal a lot about Thai culture, auspicious belief and mentality. Hence, riding a taxi in Thailand can become a spiritual experience.

Yours, Sirinya

*photo credit: Thai Taxi Talismans, FB page

Further reading:

The Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok

The Reclining Buddha is a very popular tourist magnet and also an important object of piety. It is located at Wat Pho which is a Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon District in Bangkok. Thus, this place is also referred to as ‘Temple of the Reclining Buddha’. The temple was founded in 1781 by Rama I who is also known as King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke. Officially, the temple is called ‘Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan’. Well, indeed a long and complicated name, hence ‘Wat Pho’ is the usual abbreviation.

The Reclining Buddha

Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

Thus, the Reclining Buddha can be considered a Buddha image of the early Bangkok period. It is made from brick and stucco and it is lacquered and gilded. This Buddha statue is 15 meters high, measured from the base to the topknot, and 46 meters long according to the info on Wat Pho’s official website.

Buddha Image, Wat Pho

Buddha Image, Wat Pho*

The Great Buddha of Wat Pho is also referred to as the Buddha in the ‘Sleeping Lion Posture’ which is the position in which Buddha died. Buddha lies on the right side with knees slightly bend and the left hand on the thigh. In Buddhism, the ‘Sleeping Lion Posture’ is also the traditionally recommended mode for dying.

The Buddha is enshrined in the Nothwestern area of Wat Pho. What is most special about the image is that the Buddha’s feet are divided into 108 arranged panels which are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. These panels display the 108 auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified. Hence, these are symbols of fortune and prosperity like the lotus and symbols of royalty and greatness of an emperor like the throne. In addition, there are other royal belongings depicted as well as parts of the religious cosmology. For instance, these are the universe, the four continents and the oceans.

The Buddha's feet, Wat Pho

The Buddha’s feet, Wat Pho*

The belief in 108 auspicious symbols came from the ancient scripture of Sri Lanka, indicating that these symbols were spotted by the Brahmins on the soles of Prince Siddhartha, who is the historical Buddha, five days after his birth.

Taking a closer look at the auspicious symbols

Taking a closer look at the auspicious symbols*

What is more, there are also 108 bronze bowls in the corridor which serve to indicate the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. You may donate money in these bowls and this is considered to provide good karma since donations help to maintain the temple.

Here are some impressions of my visit to Wat Pho and the Great Buddha Image.

I hope you enjoyed my little video and tell me, have you been to see the Reclining Buddha? By the way, another popular Buddha Image in Bangkok is the Golden Buddha of Wat Traimit.

Have a nice Sunday everyone! 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*all photos in this post are my own, unless otherwise stated)

The Great Buddha of Wat Muang, Thailand

If you come to the province of Ang Thong in Thailand, you will behold an amazing and awe-inspiring sight. It’s the Great Buddha Statue of Thailand which is located in the Wat Muang Monastry in Ang Thong province. This temple is situated at Moo 6, Tambon Huataphan which is approximately eight kilometers from downtown. If you drive along Ang Thong Wiset Chai Chan route, you will see the temple on the left side 🙂 This place is about 130 km away from Bangkok.

The Big Buddha Statue of Wat Muang

The Great Buddha of Ang Muang*

The Great Buddha Statue of Wat Muang overlooking the valley*

The Buddha statue is 92meters high and 63meters wide. These are truly gigantic measurements! Hence, it is the ninth tallest Buddha statue in the whole world. This Buddha is also referred to as the Big Buddha of Thailand, Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin or Mahaminh Sakayamunee Visejchaicharn. The Great Buddha is made of cement but painted with gold. It is a relatively new statue since the construction started in 1990 and was completed in 2008.

The Buddha's hand (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

Touching the Buddha’s hand*

In fact, there is another giant Buddha image in Phuket, Thailand. It’s called the Phra Puttamingmongkol Akenakkiri Buddha. This Buddha is 45 meters high.

An impressive giant Buddha image*

An impressive giant Buddha image*

The province Ang Thong is located in central Thailand (Changwat). ‘Ang Thong’ can be translated as “golden bowl”. This is because the province is relatively prosperous since it has many rice fields. What is more, the Big Buddha now watches over and oversees the valley of Ang Thong. Thus, the Buddha also seems to be a kind of tourism magnet 😉

The Great Buddha against the blue sky*

The Great Buddha against the blue sky*

Even though the Big Buddha is the main attraction of Wat Muang (in Thai: วัดม่วง), the temple has some more important points of interest. For example, the ubosot of the temple (i.e. the ordination hall) is surrounded by the largest pink lotus petals in the world. The ordination hall is used for the ordination ceremonies of monks and for rites concerning monastic discipline.

Big lotus leaves surround the ordination hall*

Big lotus leaves surround the ordination hall*

In addition, there is also a museum on the ground floor of Wihan Kaeo where sacred objects, antiques and figures of venerated Thai monks are displayed. However, the museum is only open on weekends (Saturday and Sunday) from 9am to 5pm.

Temple & museum*

The temple compound & museum*

In the upper floor of the museum you find the first and largest silver Buddha image in Thailand. This silver Buddha was constructed in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of H. M. the King’s throne ascendancy.

Inside Wat Muang temple*

Inside Wat Muang temple and the silver Buddha image*

Nonetheless, Wat Muang has plenty to offer. For example, in the temple compound there are also figures of heaven and hell. In addition, you can also find there a large statue of Guanyin which is the female depiction of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion. The Guanyin is a Buddha image with 1000 hands that stand for her helpful and compassionate being.

Guanyin statue at the temple compound*

The golden Guanyin statue is the female depiction of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of compassion*

What is more, there are also figures which narrate the history of the Thai-Burmese battle in Wiset Chai Chan. Finally, there are also examples of fine architecture.

Fine architechture at the temple compound*

Fine architecture at the temple compound*

In fact, I find the figures of hell very scary, unpleasant and intimidating 😉 Thus, I won’t insert a picture of them here but rather continue with an amazing video that shows an aerial shot of Wat Muang and the Great Buddha statue!

Enjoy watching!

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)