AYUDHAYA: Every family has its own unique customs, but a family in Phak Hai District recently caught national attention when it was discovered keeping the corpse of a long-dead relative in the front room of the family home.
Current guardian of the coffin, 36-year-old Samreng Yingyong, told reporters the body was that of his great-great uncle Phuangthong Lidkaho, who died almost 70 years ago.
Mr Phuangthong’s open coffin is kept in the front room of the hundred-year-old wooden Thai house, where Mr Phuanthong once lived.
Every day after he gets home from his construction job, Mr Samreng lights incense sticks in front of the coffin and makes offerings of food and drink. Every night he sleeps in front of the coffin to keep it company.
On many nights he hears the sound of footsteps in the house and someone sweeping the floor, Mr Samreng said.
This in no reason to feel afraid, however. Mr Samreng’s granny told him it was just Mr Phuangthong’s spirit wandering about.
Older brother Prasit Lidkaho, 75, said that he was the fourth child of seven in his family. Mr Phuangthong was the youngest. His family were practitioners of traditional medicine, with the family speciality being the meed mor (witchdoctor’s magic knife), Mr Prasit explained.
Mr Phuangthong was born without a right hand and missing a number of toes. Despite this handicap, by the age of nine he was already a master healer who could treat any illness, Mr Prasit said.
His short career came to a tragic halt when he fell down the front steps of the home and landed on a large mortar.
As he lay dying, the child called his parents and siblings to his side.
In the exact spot where his body still lies, he told them that he didn’t want to be cremated.
The family must keep his body until they were sure he had been reborn. If they did not, the family would split apart and come to ruin, the dying child said.
That said, the young Mr Phuangthong bade farewell to his relatives, assumed a meditative position and quietly passed away, Mr Prasit said.
“It’s strange,” Mr Prasit said, “I bought a teak coffin, but the body didn’t rot or smell so we never had to put the lid on it. The body just dried out by itself.”
The family tradition of healing is now being continued by his son, a monk in Kanchanaburi and still uses Mr Phuangthong’s magic knife, Mr Prasit said.
The family would keep watch over Mr Phunagthong’s body for as long as they lived, he added.
Neighbor Chanuan Thanuthon, 78, confirmed that Mr Phuangthong was a powerful healer loved by all the villagers.
After his death, no one was afraid when his spirit appeared to people or possessed mediums. It was just the spirit’s way of letting people know he had not yet been reborn, she explained.
A relative of Mr Phaungthong, 66-year-old police captain Thongthai Bancha, said that since word of the story was published in the national press, many visitors had come to the house asking to see the body.
Capt Thongthai said that since the visitors started coming he began sleeping in the house to help out.
Most visitors ask for good luck or seek proof that Mr Phunagthong’s spirit still occupies the house.
One night Mr Phunathong’s elder sister, 76-year-old Yuphin Ahthon, suddenly began shaking and fainted at the house. She then began to speak with the voice of a young boy, giving everyone a right old shock, Capt Thongthai said.
Unfortunately, reports that Mr Phuangthong’s spirit can convey to visitors winning numbers in upcoming lottery draws have yet to be independently verified.
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