Erawan Shrine, or the San Phra Phrom - as known to the locals, is a popular Hindu shrine in Bangkok. It preserves a beautifully sculpted four-headed statue of the deity 'Phra Phrom', the Thai God of creation, equivalent to the Hindu God 'Brahma'. Erected in 1956, it initially served as a 'spirit house', when the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel was constructed. According to popular beliefs, during the construction of the hotel, builders faced various unwarranted problems that miraculously disappeared once the temple was set up.
From then on, people began to associate the shrine with good luck,
prosperity and happiness. The golden deity placed inside the temple is
held with utmost awe and reverence. Everyday, thousands of devotees
travel to the place to seek his blessings and offer him garlands,
candles and lotus flowers. Those followers whose wishes sees
fulfillment, sponsor classical music and dance performances at the
temple, by resident Thai dance troupes, free of cost for the public.
Thus, the place sees magnificent dance performances every few minutes.
Dancers in flamboyant costumes, wafting fragrance of incense, and
brightly lit candles in the shrine reflect an incredible facet of the
Thai tradition and culture. However, behind the serenity and tranquility
that envelops it, the shrine also bears the mark of a violent history.
In March 2006, a mentally deranged Thai man, sabotaged the central
statue of the temple. Angry onlookers beat him to death and the shrine
remain closed for public for quite some time. Later, a new Brahma statue
was installed in May 2006.
This turbulent episode did not tarnish the popularity of the shrine.
Even today, pilgrims flock to the place with different prayers on their
lips. Busloads of tourists, from places like Taiwan, Hong Kong and
Singapore, are a regular sight. No entrance fee is charged and the
shrine welcomes everyone equally, without any form of racial, ethnic or
cultural discrimination. With its mystical fervor and enigmatic appeal,
Erawan shrine has been a ray of hope and inner strength for many
devotees round the world, from the time it was established.