Thai Superstitions And A Mothers Love

 This post is built around the anniversary of the loss of a loved one two years ago. a tribute to Mothers all over the world for their continued love and a look at superstition from a Thai and Western point of view concluding in strange circumstances. The photos in this post are of the ceremony that took place in Nakhon Sawan Thailand to say goodbye to a loved one.

Thai Superstition

Once again working in a general sense Thai people are extremely superstitious (as is a lot of Asia) and will pay great attention to operate and conduct themselves in a manner that might bring good fortune to shine on them and at the same token do all that they can to avoid bringing about misfortune on themselves. My wife like most good Thais will operate in a way that to do such and such a thing will be favoured by the Buddha and bring good luck, but to do something else would bring the opposite, showing a strong link between Religion, Superstition and divine intervention if you will. My wife is strong in her belief in creating good karma and doing good unto others and often recites to me her favourite saying of ”what goes around comes around”. If you have ever been to Thailand you cannot fail to notice the small shrine like Buddhist temples outside of people’s homes or offices known as spirit houses (San prah Bhum) and this is the exact purpose, a home for the land spirits. The San Phra Bhum or spirit house is treated like a shrine as well with offerings of food, flowers, candles, incense and if possible the shrine should bear some resemblance to the owner’s house so that the spirit will feel at ease and comfortable (saduak saby สะดวกสบาย). The shrines are erected by a Brahmin who sorts out where to place the shrine, carries out the ceremony and welcomes the spirits to live happily in it and afterwards the Buddhist monks will come to bless your residence or place of work. Of course this is much like  The Chinese Feng (wind) and shui (water)  which is now also popular in the west with massive companies having had a Feng Shui practitioner design their head offices. The principles of Feng Shui are the design of your home, environment and heart, so you are able to be at peace with the universe and yourself and be able to use the changes to your best advantage. I must admit that  even after a simple de-cluttering session I feel energised so I can see where some of this is coming from. If you are thinking  to yourself what a load of old ancient nonsense then here are a few I would say moderately successful people who have used the services of a Feng Shui practitioner….  Donald Trump, Richard Branson, Anita Roddick (Body Shop), The HSBC Group, developers like Wimpy and that is just to name a few. One of my favourite Thai superstitions is based around the Jing Jok  (จี้งจก) a little house lizzard in Thailand. Now if one day you have made your plan for the day and it involves leaving the house it would be wise to think again if the Jing Jok is making a considerable amount of noise. The Lizzard is warning that bad luck awaits and you had better stay home for that day in Thai this is called Jing Jok Tak (จี้งจกทัก) talk about having your whole day changed by a lizzard, but best be on the safe side.

Ceremony Of Nara In Nakhon Sawan Thailand

Ghosts

Whilst watching Thai television it is normal for my wife to be saying ” go on run away quickly” advising some poor sod on the run from a (ผี Pee) ghost. It is fairly rare not to find a daily ghost story on Thai television and in a lot of cases more than one. It is some what confusing for me, but apparently there are different kinds as well. There are the type that are unhappy about their death and rise for revenge, dissatisfied ghosts who return to take it out on the living. However the one that is really horrifying is the beautiful lady ghost oh my goodness she is so gorgeous and just as you are about to slide in to heaven and caressing mould with her that darn terrible loud music comes in frightens the living daylights out of you and she turns ugly and nasty. Actually there are probably a bundle of proverbs here, but ” Don’t judge a book by its cover”  and ” if you think its to good to be true it often is” comes to mind’ but you know men and they seem  to have trouble resisting the charms of this ghost all the time. Ghosts aside it is really unfair that men are still trying to figure out women, but you ladies  have our number alright and so easy to trap a man, I don’t know who came up with that nonsense about women being the weaker sex ….. no chance. On a serious note my wife actually lays claim to having seen a ghost in Thailand and if I don’t believe it then it would be best if I just kept quiet and not say anything, but the worst that has happened to me was looking like I had seen one, when Liverpool came to Old Trafford a couple of seasons ago and won 4-1.

The Head Monk Of The Temple

Westerners And Superstition

It would be wrong of me to say that the west is not so superstitious as I have never made a study of the subject I can only really speak from childhood and the cocoon I lived in which was the South West of England. To me it was more surface superstitions not running deep like in the East, they would of course be passed on through generations handed down  like a second-hand piece of clothing, information that I was just supposed to believe without questioning or as my grandmother would have it. In the old days of growing up I would have to do my daily chores a couple of hours before and after school. In the morning saw me carrying out tasks at my parents house and after school helping my gran who was now elderly with the shopping etc, nowadays if the kids were to perform this in the UK they would probably ring childline, but in those days I had no idea of their number. My grandmother was a walking superstition ” we can’t go shopping today its the thirteenth and you’ll get ran over, well I should be alright gran if I stay on the pavement surely, no you’re not going its dangerous, don’t go under that ladder its bad luck, have you had your apple, no I’m alright thanks, no have it an apple a day keeps the doctor away and don’t break that mirror or its seven years bad luck. I was actually a nervous wreck by the age of seven looking everywhere for possible dangers. My gran was a very religious lady who decided that I should attend Sunday school at her church the Baptist Church every Sunday morning and although being quite frankly bored to my brains I  did not want to show disrespect or defiance as that inevitably came with a smack around the ear. All would be fine as in the afternoon’s I looked forward to watching The Big Match (football of course) with commentary from the late Brian Moore. I guess I later went down in my grans estimation as they changed Sunday school mornings to afternoons and it would mean no football, there are many things a man or small boy can put up with, but that is not one of them. I decided that smack around the ear or not I would leave  Sunday school  and remove myself from those superstitions also, however still helping my gran with the shopping of course, but the relationship was never quite the same. It is probably only through football that I have had any superstitions at all, I care not if 13 is the number of the day and its a Friday I will fly if  that is the date and have done on a couple of occasions, I care not about walking under ladders or breaking a mirrors – not intentionally of course, but when it came to football I was a whisker away from the funny farm as a superstitious nut. If you don’t like football then perhaps this is hard to understand, but my footballing friends whoever they support will know what I mean. During my days of growing up the only real way to keep in touch with your teams live game was to travel the country watching them (which I did as much as possible or as often as I could twist my Dad’s arm to drive all over England on his day off) or listen to the live second half commentary on the radio when your team was playing. I was then, still am and always will be a  Manchester United fan I had been since the age of 5 when I first saw the greatest player to ever grace God’s earth George Best and yes I include Pele, Maradonna, Cruyff, Messi and anyone else in the mix and will argue this one with anybody, but that’s for another day. In a winning position of 1-0 or 2-1 or whatever it would be time to pace around the living room as the pressure mounted on our goalmouth from the opposition. It was vital I did not cross the line from lounge to hallway or the opposition would equalise, going to the toilet was totally out of the question as not only would the opposition equalise, but force a winner as well and it would all be my fault … just too much to live with. So you see I could control the outcome of all matches from our living room… fantastic. Further more I must sit in the chair that took us to victory in the last game and we would win, even to sit in the wrong chair for a brief moment would surely bring defeat. If someone was sat in the chair that we won from last time they would have to go quietly on their own accord or be thrown out, not that I wanted anyone in the room with me for this important business, nor I hasten to add did anybody want to be in the room with a madman. If I wore a United scarf for the last game and we won it stayed on, if not it was off and the same with a United shirt, in fact had my behaviour been observed by anyone other than my parents, who incidentally were used to it then the funny farm would have been imminent. I actually worried about my sanity for a while until observing a really good friend go through the same things as an Arsenal supporter he was mad as well. Nowadays it is all a lot calmer and of course live on television, but if a late equaliser or winner is required my wife who occasionally becomes a football nut depending on how the wind is blowing or how wound up she finds I am about it prays to Buddha high up on the shelf and offerings are made and I can tell you he has certainly come up with some late winners as I dance around the room punching the air and stopping to show my gratitude with a few respectful wai’s on the absolute insistence of my wife. Other club supporters have always wondered where all our late goals came from and termed it ”Fergie time”, but now they have the real answer.

The Temple In Nakhon Sawan

A Mothers Love

Finally I will get around to the main point of this post as on 18th August 2008 our son died aged 26 of natural causes, which were caused by a number of complications ending with a chest infection which caused the organs in his body to shut down. Quite simply has to go down as the worst day in your life the loss of a child without question. My wife in her beliefs looked for answers in dreams, perhaps a visit in the night, perhaps he had travelled back to Thailand and had arrived in my wife’s mother’s dream, but no one had heard from him. In 2009 Nakhon Sawan in Thailand we took his ashes to his grandmother’s house, but there was still unfinished business as no shrine had been built no stone and we kind of felt the job was unfinished, he was home, but not in a natural resting place, so in February 2010 we returned purchased the shrine and laid it to rest in the temple, we took food to the monks as they chanted and placed his ashes inside the peak of the shrine, the head monk of the temple blessed the shrine and after the monks had eaten some of the food that we made, we all went back to my wife’s sisters house to have some food as a family ourselves. It felt great that the job was completed and he was laid to rest in his birth place of Nakhon Sawan, Thailand with other former family members. In England on 18th  August 2010 we set off as a family with flowers, card and photo of Nara to the crematorium where he was cremated to remember our lad and share a few thoughts, before all going our separate ways to the usual call of our work duties. Whilst on the way to work the mobile phone went off and it was my wife informing me she had won a gift, not a life changing gift, but we can certainly dine out once in a while instead of a sandwich in the kitchen. It was not the gift, but the strangeness that it was on the exact day of the second anniversary of Nara’s death. Every Thai person that my wife has spoken to bar none says the same thing as my wife, that Nara sent it and who am I to even begin to question this. Her smile from the thought that Nara was with her and looking after her certainly brought a  joy to her face that I had not seen for a long time. It was quite an incredible day. We miss you son. 

Back Home After The Ceremony To Eat The Remainder Of The Food

In Loving Memory Of Nara

A poem written for all Mum’s  regardless of nationality who have loved and lost and keep loving  The poem ends with a look at luck, superstition call it what you will from a Thai perspective, but the majority of the poem can relate to anyone who feels the pain from loss as we all do at stages in life.

In Loving Memory Of Nara ( 11.07.82 to 18.08.08)

Poem

  • Two years have passed
  • Since we lost our son age twenty-six                                                               
  • High blood pressure and Diabetes
  • Were all in the mix                                                                                            

 

  • I’m not sure if you know
  • but its a powerful thing
  • the bond that exists
  • between a mum and offspring

 

  • She awaits his arrival
  • Puts out fork spoon and plate
  • We know he’s not coming
  • but his mum she still waits

 

  • Thai food from his mother
  • Gave him such a big thrill
  • How I wish he’d come join us
  • For just one last meal

 

  • I tell you young Nara
  • The joy it would bring
  • If you came back to see her
  • Or just gave her a ring

 

  • Oh how I wish
  • You’d come just for one day
  • To see me and your mum
  • Sisters Isobel,Katrina, Jen and Boobay

 

  • I’d better go now son
  • As it’s getting real late
  • But your mum’s by the front door
  • She continues to wait

 

  • On two years passing
  • To this very day
  • His mum bought a lottery ticket
  • For luck she did say

 

  • A strange thing happened
  • On the card she did scratch
  • She said Nara chose it
  • And a gift was attached

 

  • I couldn’t believe it
  • His mum said its a sign
  • That Nara had called
  • And he’s doing just fine.

 

  • I’m not sure if you know
  • But its a powerful thing
  • The bond that exists
  • Between a mum and offspring.

For those of you who knew Nara a personal tribute is being placed on the Engaging Thailand website which will over time have photos, text and comments of people who knew him either as a friend or as the sous chef at Thai Gourmet. http://www.engagingthailand.com/Naratribute.html

 A Mother’s Love In The Animal Kingdom

Incidentally, whether human or animal it makes no difference as there is nothing as powerful as a mothers love. This was pointed out to me recently by a good friend who alerted me to a video clip that proves just that. I urge you to watch this incredible wildlife footage, he knew nothing of this post I was about to write, but his timing was impeccable thanks to Mark Stephens who if you remember did the superb interviews earlier this year on living in Thailand and essentially Hua Hin. Mark’s wife owns the superb Mk Internet Cafe opposite the Tanawit condos in the centre of Hua Hin. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8DDYz68kM

The Poems, Songs And Commentaries of Thomas Albert Fox

I also have no experience of writing any form of poetry and thought of the poem just to support  the text, but on reading the poetry and songs of Thomas Albert Fox who quite superbly does know about writing poetry, Fox points out how his  poems actually explain the text and not the other way around.  Fox himself is no stranger to Thailand at all having made many visits to the area and in his latest book ” songs of nocence” Fox observes beggars around Bangkok’ s Soi Aree area playing a Thai traditional musical instrument called the ” saw u”  an instrument that one would usually find as part of an orchestra. However the beggar will play the instrument to attract attention and to show his or her skill hence it now appropriately seems that a service has been provided and payment is for the artistic performance and recognition of skill as opposed to a charitable donation.  These performers were from the North East region of Thailand called Phak Esarn possessing their own dialect and a very strong culture. A fine photo exists of the ”saw u” player with said ”saw u” in the book ”songs of nocence” by Thomas Albert Fox and the photo was taken by Siriluck. Fox not only mentions Thailand, the far east or subjects to do with that, but touches on countries and subjects all over the world in his books including his English and British homeland. Take a walk through the world of Thomas Albert Fox via his poetry, songs and commentaries with his long-standing editor Terry Edwards. Fox already has a library of published books to his name, but continues his autobiographies northwards, westwards, eastwards and southwards of the big wide world. To find out more about the work of Thomas Albert Fox or to purchase his books please visit  http://www.justwords.demon.co.uk/   which is also the home of Athais Limited  a superbly professional and highly skilled company specialising in  Thai translation and interpretation services.

For further information on Thailand or the products talked about in this post please visit the work in progress that is www.engagingthailand.com  Engaging Thailand still loves the traditional side of Thailand and intends fishing where the fewest fish in a manner of speaking.

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