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High-tech sprituality



High-tech sprituality | Thaiger

UBON RATCHATHANI: It is well known that when you make a deal with the spirit world it’s best to hold up your end of the bargain – an act known in Thai as kae bon. Perhaps Thailand’s best-known acts of kae bon take place at Bangkok’s Erawan Shrine, famous for helping mortals pick winning lottery numbers. Those who hit it big are known to return to the shrine to kae bon, which in the case of the Erawan Shrine involves dancing naked in front of the statue. But in Ubon Ratchathani’s Nong Peu district, one local spirit has apparently gone hi-tech, with kae bon offerings not only including joss sticks, fresh fruit and garlands, but also electronic gadgets. The shrine now has more than 20 answering machines, black-and-white TVs, stereo systems and used cassette tape players. Mun Namwichit, 70, told reporters that local people respect the shrine’s spirit very much. Drivers passing by beep their horns three times to show their respect and demonstrate their faith, thereby maintaining a kind of supernatural insurance policy against the road accidents. But why electronics? Cynics might conclude that the shrine is just a dumping ground for outdated technology: black-and-white TVs and telephone answering machines are no longer needed in the age of color TVs, mobile phone answering services and SMS. But local residents think differently. It all started about two years ago, when a group of villagers offered a black-and-white TV set to the resident spirit to keep it from “getting lonely”. Soon after, many other villagers offered their black-and-white TVs to the spirit. Then, after a resident dropped his mobile phone and it disappeared into a crack in the rocks near the base of the shrine, residents reached the conclusion that the spirit had a taste for electronic gadgets – and they have been supplying them in abundance ever since. And apparently with good results. Amnuay Deeruang (his name, loosely translated, means “to spin a good tale”), 36, told a reporter that he had never heard of anyone dying in road accidents in the area because the shrine’s spirit protected all passing motorists who beep their horns three times as a show of respect. He added that those who failed to pay such respect might have some unexpected event befall them.


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