The Naga of the Night

The Naga at night.

The picture above is a common temple decoration in Thailand.  The large green dragon creature is called a Makara, and the serpents coming out of his mouth are the Naga.  It’s really quite amazing how religious mythology travels around Asia, borrowing and reinventing.  The makara and the naga are both Hindu originally but like many items from Hindu mythology can be seen making guest appearances in Buddhist practices in other countries.  It’s always a humbling experience standing at the steps of a temple looking up at the beasts.  It is also a very empowering feeling standing at the top of a temple looking down on the twisting body of such a creature.

A Buddha A Day

Buddha's in a SriChang temple.

These Buddha’s were lined up in a temple on the island of SriChang. In front of them were seven pots in which you were supposed to drop coins in for good luck. I was told the pots represented the days of the week. One person said you should drop the coins in the day of the week that you were born on. I don’t know which day of the week I was born on off the top of my head so I just followed the lead of the girls before me and went down the line dropping a coin in each pot.

As a side note I will be running a print series of this image, available at
 www.wingsoflea.etsy.com

River Houses

Houses built on the river in Bangkok.

There are a lot of houses built right on the river.  If you aren’t on land the country can’t charge you money, so it’s tax free housing.  It is also the traditional way of building houses.  People would build around the rivers and canals because it’s easy to travel and grow.  The land would be flat and wet so that they could easily walk or boat to their destinations.  Personally I feel these homes have a simplistic beauty to them even though they are built up like shacks.  I imagine the tin roofs must get very hot though in the humid heat of the summer.

Inside the Temple

The shrine of the Thai temple in Gaya.

Here are some pictures for an inside look of the Thai temple in Gaya. The shrine not only features Buddha but also many symbols of Thailand including a portrait of the King on the side wall. There were also other tables that contained more pictures of the King. He is very important to the Thai culture and you would be hard pressed to find a temple in Thailand that does not honor him as well. On the other walls however traditional Thai style gave way to more traditional Indian style of decorating. The walls are painted with murals depicting the stories of Buddha in an Indian stylized form. On the back wall is the a story of bringing Buddha and his teachings to Thailand. It seems that in this story they load up a boat to sail towards what is seen background a the a city of the Thai Royal Palace (Bangkok). Yet a storm breaks out and the boat sinks. In the end Buddha is saved and carried to safety by a Goddess  so that his teachings can spread through Thailand.

Loading the ship to sail for Thailand.

The back wall mural, painted in an Indian style, at the Thai temple in Gaya.

A close up of Buddha being carried to safety by a Goddess at the Thai temple in Gaya.

Thai Temple in Gaya

Thai Temple in Bhodagaya

Along the Buddhist pilgrimage there are four main points. At those spots (as well as many others) other Buddhist countries have built temples in the area to honor these spots and give pilgrims from their region a place to stop. Thailand has lots of these temples. According to the Indian tour guides Thai tourism to that area has been becoming very popular in the last few years. The temple in Gaya was where we went first so that some of are party could become monks.  The Thai style roofs are easily recognizable amongst the skyline of temples as a symbol of home for Thai natives.

Roof of the Thai temple in Gaya

Snake Oil

A real snake oil.

There really isn’t to much to say about this one. It’s an odd little Chinese remedy, a true snake oil. My dad studies public health so he has to take traditional cultural remedies into consideration when they study diseases.  Mostly though, it was just so neat I needed to take a picture. If anyone knows more about the meaning of the snake and the scorpion please let me know.