Sky-blue robotic cat invades temple

SUPHAN BURI: A Temple in Suphan Buri province has become a national sensation after an unusual character was spotted hiding in its wall paintings: the Japanese cartoon character Doraemon.

Noticing Doraemon’s huge popularity with Thai schoolchildren, artist Rakkiat Lertjitsakun added the sky-blue robotic cat to murals at Wat Samp Pa Siew in Muang district.

Now Doraemon and his schoolboy friend Nobita can be seen in scenes depicting heaven, hell and the 10 incarnations of the Buddha.

The cartoons are small and quite hard to see, making spotting them a little like reading a Where’s Waldo book.

The trick has been a massive hit with local children, who are flocking to the temple to catch a glimpse of the characters – and learning Buddhist teachings along the way.

In one scene, Doraemon is seen in hell being fried in a pan with other screaming sinners. In another, Doraemon guards the Buddha, while in yet another he is playing in water.

There are other scenes with more modern themes. In one, Doraemon and Nobita are shown together in front of the Thai national flag, one wearing red, the other wearing yellow in an allusion to Thailand’s current political divisions.

There are also scenes showing love between men, one in which Doraemon spies on a male angel, and a dog with three legs, the real counterpart to which actually lives on the temple grounds.

Villagers in the temple told a Khao Sod reporter said they thought the cartoons were a playful way to bring the paintings up to date.

They didn’t think the paintings had been damaged; the important thing was that they showed their children why they should do good and not evil.

Temple abbot Phra Maha-anan, who hadn’t noticed Doraemon’s presence in the murals until he was told about them by a Khao Sod reporter, said he wasn’t angry at all. Mr Rakkiat was just trying to help today’s children learn about good and evil and heaven and hell, he said.

Mr Rakkiat, 34, said he had painted murals in many temples and started work on those in Wat Samp Pa Siew in 2005.

Mr Rakkiat said he was merely following an old tradition of inserting hidden messages into temple paintings. Artists of yore had hidden depictions of sex in their murals, he said.

By adding Doraemon and modern themes to the paintings, Mr Rakkiat hoped they would preserve today’s world as history on the temple walls.

The artist said he hoped his paintings would draw children into the temple and teach them about right and wrong and about the lives of the Buddha.

Thailand News

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