Although Thailand is a mainly Buddhist country, where about 95% of the population follow the teachings of the Lord Buddha, and nearly all the rest are Muslim, there are a number of Hindus of Indian descent especially in Bangkok, enough to have a “Little India” district. A few days ago they celebrated the 9 days of the Navaratri festival (also spelled Navatri/Navratri) dedicated to the worship of one of the multitude of Hindu deities.
One website says it is Shakti, another says Durga, but as Hindu gods come in several forms and under many names they could very well be one and the same !
Who ever it is for, on the last night the area around the Sri Maha Mariamman temple on Silom Road becomes ground zero for multitudes of pop-up shrines adorned with candles, deities, garlands, incense and other offerings.
It is not just Hindus who come to worship, as many Thais will have an each-way bet on religion …one of the most popular shrines in town is the Erawan Shrine which is a shrine to Brahma, and the Hindu deity Ganesh is popular too ! So the road for 4kms around the temple are closed to traffic to enable the crowds of people to walk around and worship, or just take photos (like me!). Some of the more fervent believers would dance themselves into a trance until they collapsed, others would get blessed by the shamans along the route.
Also along the route were several stands handing out free vegetarian foods and drinks to refuel and re-energise, as well as the normal local street vendors, so there were shrines and stalls for nearly all the 4km route.
The night culminates in the ceremonial journey of the god’s statue around the route, pulled along on it’s chariot. We left the area near the temple at around 11.15pm in order to get the last Skytrain home, and we passed it near the Skytrain station, only about a quarter of it’s journey done ! I’m glad we did not wait around to see it arrive back at the temple as many others were doing.
So if you are in Bangkok around late September or early October and want a taste of India check the exact dates and perhaps wander down to Silom Road.