Mystical holy cloths offer moral support

Mystical holy cloths offer moral support

Superstitious beliefs permeate Thai society

Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas, right, holds a piece of holy cloth which is believed to help combat corruption. The piece of holy cloth was made at Wat Ratchabophit. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
Auditor-General Pisit Leelavachiropas, right, holds a piece of holy cloth which is believed to help combat corruption. The piece of holy cloth was made at Wat Ratchabophit. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

Superstition and spiritual worship are not strange to Thai culture. In this country, a belief in the supernatural permeates almost every aspect of daily life.

Many Thais wholeheartedly believe in the power of superstition.

Many people, from business executives making multi-million dollar deals to students facing uncertain careers, feel the need for religious rites by respected monks, to ward off bad luck.

Some VIPs place great emphasis on unseen powers. For example, members of cabinet, even the science and technology minister, inaugurate their offices at auspicious times, and powerful generals have been known to consult their spiritual advisers before a big decision as well.

The recent achievement of Leicester City Football Club, owned by Thai billionaire Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, was also credited to a piece of holy cloth woven by one of Thailand's high ranking monks.

In 2008, the Kasikorn Research Centre estimated Thais spent 2.5 billion baht on spiritual and supernatural services each year.

Among the spenders was the Office of the Auditor-General of Thailand (OAG), the kingdom's budget auditor, which held a ceremony to make a piece of holy cloth -- which it said would help combat corruption -- at Wat Ratchabophit on Saturday morning.

According to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, Thailand came 76th out of 175 countries, with 175 being the most corrupt.

Thailand reached its lowest ranking of 102 in 2013, and its best of 34 in 1995.

"The holy cloths will be a symbolic wall that promotes virtuous spending," OAG's auditor-general Pisit Leelavachiropas told the Bangkok Post.

He said the cloth is imprinted with 16 magical symbols along with the logo of the OAG.

A total of 4,000 mystical scarves with supernatural powers will also be distributed to the OAG's staff, with 1,000 more to be handed out to people who help the OAG combat corruption.

Although Mr Pisit demurred on whether magical power can protect public funds and reduce corruption, he said the amulets offer moral support to the OAG staff and remind them they are duty-bound to safeguard public money.

"Absolutely, there is no such magic that can eradicate corruption in Thailand at the drop of a hat, but if our staff continue to uphold the law of karma, it will be in their power. If they have good intentions and determination to do good deeds, they will do good job," Mr Pisit said.


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