Okay, this is no ordinary museum, you can easily spot this three-headed elephant, “Erawan” from the freeway, it weighs 150 tons (100 tons for the head alone) and is 95 feet in height.
Erawan holds a special significance in the Thai culture because it is seen as the savior of Thailand during times past and elephants are revered in general in the culture as a symbol of thai royalty
The museum was founded by Lek Viriyaphant and was completed in 1997. Lek’s wish for the museum was that it showcase the spirit of Asian arts, culture, and the four major eastern religions.
The bottom floor of the museum is filled with antiquities of the royal family and a brief history of the thai culture through a collection of art pieces (we couldn’t take pictures there), the ground floor holds a majestic staircase that leads to an elevator and set of stairs that takes you to the head of the elephant so you can look out.
The body of the elephant is a beautiful piece of artwork and temple.
Outside the Erawan Museum you can also take part in the religious trappings. When we first went into the museum park, we stopped by the different deities. Each deity stands for a different day. Each person’s date of birth holds a special significance and that would be the deity that you would pray to and make offerings to. Squire and I used the little bowls with the blessed water (by the monks) and poured them into the cups in front of the deity of our day.
Here’s a picture of the Buddha’s footprint. It’s big.
We then did a few things that involved making a wish and trying to pick up an elephant with one finger (I used my ring finger – female, and Squire used his pinky on his dominant hand). We then had to re-say the wish and try to pick up the elephant again. If we could the wish wouldn’t come true but if we couldn’t the wish would come true. They also have fortune sticks. You shake the container and eventually one stick will fall out. The stick has a number on it and somewhere close by there should be a bunch of drawers with numbers on it, you pick out the subsequent number and that’s your fortune and depending on the fortune you can either leave it or take it with you. If it’s bad, most people will leave it. My dad’s fortune stick told him he had to refill the oil in the candles that were used to light the incense. Most of the things that we did were to earn merit for ourselves in future lives. To do this we also had bought flowers to use as an offering and incense sticks that we put into the bowls.
After the wai, we went to float lotus flowers. It was another wishing opportunity, so we made another wish and then floated the lotus into the water.
On the way out we rang the bells, to tell the gods our names, and put gold leaf on the erawan to show respect and earn merit from the deity.
I got some gold on my fingers from the gold leaf, but I think I left most of it with the Erawan.
It’s nice to participate in many different types of things and this is definitely one of those things that I’m glad I got to try and show respect for. The Erawan is definitely something you will see a lot of throughout Thailand. Remember the Ayutthaya Floating Market? Going there we past a street that was lined with streetlights that had a very familiar figure on them.
You’ll see elephants everywhere.