In many ways, religious beliefs and subscriptions of faith in Thailand are enigmatic and inexplicable. This is a "Buddhist" country, and yet many people's beliefs are closely associated with the elements of folklore, from spirits to ghosts and other brands of superstition. Hindu gods, Chinese goddesses, Brahmin rites and pagan shrines are interweaved spiritually _ sometimes commercially _ with sacred amulets and guru monks (how else could the scandalous Luang Pu Nen Kham manage to do what he did?). Lord Buddha's teachings of self-reliance are held high, but there is always room for supplementary faiths to help Thais get through each difficult day.
The 24m-long reclining Ganesh statue at Saman Rattanaram temple in Chachoengsao province. The temple claims the statue is the biggest of its kind in the world. Photos by Pornprom Satrabhaya
Among them, the Hindu, elephant-headed Ganesh is one of the most worshipped deities in Thailand _ once only in the art and entertainment circles, now it's ubiquitous. In recent years Ganesh has become even more popular and this surge of interest merits an investigation. Besides small statues of the deity in many homes and offices, there's a gigantic 24m-long, reclining bright-pink Ganesh statue at Saman Rattanaram temple in Chachoengsao province. Only 10 minutes drive away, there's another bronze Ganesh statue looming at a whopping 39m high. It is currently being given the finishing touches. In Chiang Mai, a wood-carved Ganesh standing 6m tall has recently been put up. In the same province, a museum dedicated entirely to Ganesh statues and relics have drawn crowds of devotees and curious visitors.