Most of the foreigners going to Wat Arun has one goal and that is climbing the steep steps of the towering temple. But there more to Wat Arun than its tower and that is what I discovered during our visit to this place last January.
|White giant of Wat Arun.|
We passed between the giant demon guards of Wat Arun and entered a silent sanctuary.
It is silent during that moment because there is no person other than me and my travel companion and Malaysian-blogger-friend Foong PC. The noise of tourism went back immediately.
I immediately noticed the presence of non-Buddhist elements in this place. Present in this place are statues that are definitely of Chinese origin. The totem pole has dragons and the two statues near the door look like terracota statues.
The place that we entered is the outer courtyard of Wat Arun's ubosot or the ordination hall, the most important place in a Buddhist temple complex. It is the place where the Buddhist ceremonies take place.
I think that this outer courtyard was placed to separate the ubosot from the outside world.
Statues of Buddha line up the wall of the ubosot's inner courtyard. Eric Lim, the owner of Tour Bangkok Legacies website, said that these statues were made during the reign of King Rama II. This means that these statues are at least 189 years old.
The Buddha statues may be interesting but what caught my attention are the row of Chinese statues. I think it weird to see statues of Chinese deities in a Buddhist temple.
I have an inkling that the Chinese deities were placed to become the outer guards of the ubosot. They were placed at the place where there is no roof unlike the Buddha statues sitting at the side.
I bet the Chinese deities are angry with this. Imagine, they were revered for so many centuries as gods in China and yet in Thailand they are just guards.
Small towers are located at the corners of inner courtyard. These towers also contains the Chinese deities. Two of them is a lady holding a gift and an old man holding a pole sword.
I am surprised with the liberality of the Thai Buddhists in mixing elements of other cultures or religions to their Buddhist faith. Even their kings bear the name of Rama, who is the hero of the Hindu legend Ramayana.
I think that placing non-Buddhist elements to their temples is not a big deal to the Thais as long as gods of other religion will not replace their Buddha. But I think that Chinese deities still disagree.