Erawan Shrine. (San Phra Phrom) in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan
See Video of Erawan Shrine and worshippers at bottom of this page
When asked about their religion, most Thais will happily respond that they are Buddhists. However, a simple glance around town will reveal that there are many elements in daily spiritual life that have little to do with Buddhism in its stricter forms. Hinduism and Animism are still there.
If you look around Bangkok, you will see little shrines placed in front of virtually all major buildings. These are the spirit houses, basically there to protect the building from anything happening to it. Small offerings such as food and drinks, are regularly placed there, and Thai people offer their respect when passing the shrines.
The four-faced four-armed Erawan Shrine (San Phra Phrom) in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan.
One such spirit house was placed in front of the Erawan hotel in the 1950's. However it was not doing its job properly, and many mishaps occurred during the construction of the hotel. So after consulting some spiritual advisers, the spirit house was replaced the present San Phra Phrom (Brahma) or Erawan Shrine. Everything went well after that with the construction work.
All day the Erawan Shrine get many visitors, many offering garlands (if not anything more substantial)
Then there is the story of the old lady that asked for help in her business, and promised to dance to the shrine, if her wisher were granted. Legend has it that her business flourished and she performed as promised.
Now, many hundreds (thousands?) of people visit the Erawan Shrine daily, wishing for luck in business or love. They make small offerings, and often in return for granted wished classical Thai dancers (with orchestra) perform at the Shrine. Also wooden elephants are offered.
The Erawan Shrine itself is gilded and features four arms and four faces. It is located at a very busy intersection (crossing Rajadamri and Phloenchit Roads) with the skytrain going almost overhead in two different direction (one off to Silom Road, the other to Sukhumvit Road). The Erawan Shrine has actually become ever more busy over the last ten years in our opinion, and many garland sellers no line the sidewalk close to San Phra Phrom. The Erawan Shrine is worth a short visit, and is located very close to Chitlom skytrain station. As said before it is at a busy intersection, and many, many shopping centers are located in the same vicinity.
Many garland stalls line the street leading to the Erawan Shrine
There are 5 other Hindu Shrines in close proximity to the Erawan Shrine. They make for an excellent walk and exploration around the Ratchaprasong Intersection. See pictures and a short introduction.
In March 2006 the Statue of Brahma was almost completely destroyed with a hammer by a young man, believed to be mentally ill. The man himself was beaten to death after desecrating the Erawan Shrine.
A few months later a rebuilt statue of Brahma was inaugurated. The image above is the one currently present.