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Monday, June 29, 2015

Bangkok - lying in coffin for reborn and luck

"NON NAI LONG SOP" means sleeping in a coffin
This temple, Wat Prommanee, 66 miles northeast of Bangkok, has offered its unusual daily resurrection service for more than three years, and its clientele keeps growing, 

Thais believe that daily resurrection washes away bad luck and helps to prolong their lives. It also gives them positive thoughts, so that a lot of these people come back again to Wat Prommanee Temple to rebirth themselves over and over again.

On weekends as many as 700 people a day pay 180 baht each, a little more than $5, for the ceremony and much more for amulets that are auctioned off by temple acolytes.

“We have only 50 of these, a limited edition, the price is up to you!” they cry. “Twenty baht, 50 baht, did I hear 300 baht? Someone has run into luck.” As the number of visitors has grown, their dip into the supernatural has become more perfunctory; now a monk with a bullhorn herds worshipers through the row of coffins, nine at a time.

they follow the monks’ commands: into the coffin, down on their backs, eyes closed, shroud on, shroud off, up on their feet, quick prayer and scramble out into a new life. The whole process takes a minute and a half. The next group of nine is waiting.

A cardboard sign warns visitors not to stand behind the coffins, where bad karma sucked from the “dying” devotees may still be hovering.

The rebirth ceremony is unusual, but not surprising, said Suwannan Sathta-Anand, an associate professor of philosophy at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.

The people who come to be reborn here at Wat Prommanee are seeking help for many of the ailments and aspirations of life.

Jirapat Winarungruang, 37, a lawyer, came one recent day to complete a transformation that he began four years ago when he changed his name from the less auspicious Suthep Wina. His new name includes the suffix rungruang, which means prosperity.

Fifty percent of a person’s destiny is determined by his name, Mr. Jirapat said, and the other 50 percent by his date of birth. When he arose from the coffin, born again, he said, the last vestiges of the old Suthep Wina would be gone.

Woraphot Sriboonyang, 30, an engineer, said he had come with Mr. Jirapat and four other family members to rid himself of bad karma. Within just a few weeks, he said, he had suffered a break-in and a bad car accident. He wanted his run of bad luck to stop at two.

Sangkhom Thani, 37, who sells subsidized food for the government, said he hoped for luck in business and relief for his aching back and knees. “If I lie down in the coffin, it will give me a new lease on life,” he said as he examined an expensive new amulet.

Chalida Muansawang, 33, a hairdresser, brought her 12-year-old daughter, Saksithorn, in the hope that a few moments in a coffin would help cure her hyperactivity.
“I’m excited and a little bit scared,” said the girl, who proceeded bravely through the process with her mother lying next to her in an adjacent coffin.

As the morning’s ceremony ended, a long line had already formed for the afternoon shift. Among the newcomers was the entire 36-man Royal Thai Army soccer team, in bright red jerseys, preparing for a match the next day.

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