Lovelorn locals flock to the Trimurti Shrine, especially on Valentine’s Day
Krung Thep, the Thai name for Bangkok, is most often translated as “City of Angels”, but a more literal translation is “City of Deities”. The sobriquet seems especially appropriate in Ratchaprasong, Bangkok’s best-known shopping area, where elaborate deity shrines stand alongside huge retail malls and luxury hotels. For international visitors, the shrines offer a fascinating glimpse into how Bangkok smoothly blends ancient and modern cityscapes.
At the Trimurti Shrine, located outside the CentralWorld shopping mall (4/4 Ratchadamri Rd), worshippers offer red roses, red candles, and red Fanta. As in many other cultures, red is associated with affairs of the heart, and it is for love that Thais pay homage to the Trimurti.
At any time of day or night—but mostly at night—single young women and the occasional single male worshipper approach the shrine armed with roses, candles, and incense. They kneel for several minutes with eyes closed, clasping their hands together as they repeat the mantras inscribed on a plaque in front of the statue.
Built in 1989, the Trimurti Shrine consists of not just one but three Hindu deities standing cheek by jowl on a raised platform, sheltered by a dome that is supported by four pillars and adorned with elaborately carved gables on each side. Said to be a latter-day replica of an original Trimurti sculpture that once stood in Ayutthaya, Thailand’s former royal capital, the divine triad consists of Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. Cast in bronze and fully gilded, the trio of heads sit atop a slender body adorned with detailed regalia and flaring robes. In Sanskrit, Trimurti literally means “three forms”. Also known as the Great Trinity, the tripartite figure symbolizes the union of all gods. In contrast with the original intended Hindu meaning, Trimurti in Thailand has somehow come to be associated with the union of couples.
Although originally standing at the Ratchaprasong intersection at the corner of CentralWorld, the shrine was moved to its current position next to a Ganesha Shrine a number of years ago when CentralWorld underwent expansion.
The shrine is most crowded on Thursday evenings around 9:30pm, thought to be the best time to ask for help finding new love or patching up a fading romance, because that’s the time of the week the deities are thought to descend from heaven to hear the prayers of supplicants. Devotees typically offer nine red roses, nine red candles, and nine incense sticks.
Valentine’s Day is thought to be the most auspicious day of all, so if you’re one of the lovelorn, or if you merely want to see the Trimurti completely enveloped by devotees, pay a visit this February 14th at around 9pm.
By Joe Cummings/CPA Media