Thailand is steeped in much mysticism and culture that relates to religion. This is significant in the many temples and places of worship in the country. Hinduism is a great influence in many of Thailand’s religious icons, traditions and culture. The Ramakien which is an epic story of the Gods and Deities was derived from the Ramayana and adapted to Thai beliefs. If you were to visit the temples in Bangkok City on a tour of Bangkok City Temples you will notice many statues and symbols of Hindu origin. Many of the religious personalities can be seen in the emblems of Government departments and company logos. There are also many shrines dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesh, which is the Elephant God or known in Thai as Papikanae and one of the oldest and most famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Ganesh is located in Silom in Bangkok.
The Thai strongly believe that there is one God for each day of the week similarly there is one Buddha position for every day of the week. One great place to see an adaptation of these Gods in their full splendour is at Ancient City or better known as Muang Boran. Located in the district of Samut Prakan, half hours drive out of Bangkok city centre; it is the first creative project by the enterprising philanthropist Khun Lek Virayaphan. There are guided tours to Ancient City which is a half day tour that should not be missed while you are enjoying your holiday in Bangkok.
This particular section in the Ancient City is known as Garden of The Gods. It might also interest you to know that there is an association between the names of the days in Thai to that of the names given to the Gods and the planets. The vast garden is beautifully maintained and the sculptures of the seven different Gods adorn various sections of the garden. One of the largest and most prominent sculptures is that of the God called Phra Athit the God of Light. He represents “Sunday” and is depicted sitting on an elaborate chariot drawn by seven sky horses and driven by Phra Arun. The name “Arun” means dawn and is similar to the famous Temple of Dawn called Wat Arun in Bangkok. Phra Athit is said to be influential, noble and distinguished. Another large sculpture is that of Phra Chan the God of the Moon who represents Monday. He can be seen astride a chariot driven by ten horses. One gets the impression that he is dignified, gentle and suave. Just to digress a little, it is believed that people born on various days are said to have these same characteristics of the Gods imparted to them. So make a note of which day you were born and see if the character of these Gods are similar to yours!
Tuesday is attributed to the God Phra Angkhan that is seen riding a huge water buffalo. His planet of influence is Mars and therefore is also known as the God of War. His characteristics are hot tempered, hard-working and controversial. You could adapt the saying of “blood, sweat and tears” to him. Many of these sculptures are very intricate in detail and provide a great insight into how the Thai people associate their lives with that of the prevailing Gods. Phra Budha (not the Buddha as we know it) rules over Wednesday. His dedicated planet is Mercury and is seated above a great elephant as his steed. He symbolizes wisdom, intellectual and communication. He is said to be wise and knowledgeable. In Thai culture, the elephant is also the symbol of wisdom and knowledge as well as bravery.
Moving on to Thursday, we have Pharutsabodhi. He can be seen riding a deer with huge antlers and carrying a writing slate. He also represents the planet Jupiter and is considered a heavenly seer and tutor to the Gods and Deities. It is also noted that Thursdays are dedicated to the teaching profession in Thailand. He represents knowledge, education and teaching.This next God is much sought after in terms of having children born on this particular day. This is the God Sukra who rides in on a hefty bull. Sukra is the ruler for Friday is a heavenly seer and also tutor of the Gods. However his atributes are wealth and a taste for the arts. The best of both worlds, money and talent!Last but not least is Phra Sao also known as Sani or in Hinduism as Shiva. His ruling planet is Saturn and he presides over Saturday. His steed is a tiger and people born under the influence of Saturn are known to be hot tempered as one of their traits! Phra Sao holds a trident in one hand and a bow in the other. Unfortunately he is also known as the God of Grief and those born on this day are also said to face a life of hardship, despair and grief. Enjoy the experience of a walking tour in Ancient City which comes highly recommended for the amazing things you can see that is not just the Garden of the Gods.
It can be said that the belief of astrology and religion go hand in hand in Thailand. Sometimes parents of newborn babies try to have their children born on an auspicious day under a particular diety so that their future will be bright and easy. For the tourist this means a host of great and interesting things and places to see! The Ancient City, where all these sculptures are located was also the site where HRH Queen Elizabeth II was given a great reception by HRH The King of Thailand when she visited Thailand in the 1970s. This is a place that should be included in your itinerary for sightseeing and tours in Bangkok. The experience of walking in the Garden of the Gods can be both fascinating and yet intimidating when one thinks of these Gods presiding over man in the world.