Erawan Shrine (ศาลพระพรหม in Thai) in Bangkok, more commonly known as the Four-Faced Buddha or 四面佛, is not strictly Buddhist, but a Brahma god (of Hindu origin).
During the mid-1950s the Thai government decided to build the luxury Erawan Hotel on this site, but its construction was delayed by a series of mishaps, including cost overruns, injuries to labourers, & the loss of a shipload of Italian marble intended for the building, led people to believe it was because the foundations were laid on the wrong date. Thus, the superstitious labourers refused to continue unless the land spirits were appeased.
An astrologer advised erecting the shrine to honour the four-faced Brahma God, Than Tao Mahaprom to counter the negative influences. Hence, the Brahma statue was designed and built by the Department of Fine Arts and enshrined on 9 November 1956. The Erawan Hotel’s construction thereafter proceeded without further incident. However, in 1987, the hotel was demolished as it could not compete with more modern facilities and was replaced by the privately-owned Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel in 1991.
Than Tao Mahaprom is believed to be a Brahma god full of kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Each virtue is represented in the four faces of the image. As the shrine was originally constructed to grace the old Erawan Hotel, the location became known as the Erawan Shrine.
A little pity that at the time of our visit, the Erawan Shrine was undergoing restoration & we didn’t get to see it.
Despite being all covered up, there were still quite a number of worshippers paying respects to the shrine, as you can see from the photo above. It has been said that Than Tao Mahaprom helped many worshippers to fulfil their wishes, be it locals or tourists, so that probably explains why there is a constant stream of believers making their way there to make ceremonial offerings at the shrine.
There was also a Thai Classical Dance troupe behind the shrine (try spotting it in the background of my photo above) dancing joyfully to the rhythms of the traditional music being played. Worshippers may also make their cash contributions near the entrance, & these contributions are being managed by a foundation who distributes funds regularly to various charitable organisations and equipment for needy hospitals in the provinces.
Go experience the aura of reverence yourself when you are in Bangkok!
To get to Erawan Shrine:
Nearest BTS station – Chit Lom
Location – In front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road
Opening hours – 0600 to 2300 hrs daily