I’m sure during your time in Thailand you’ll see many wats, pagodas and shrines. You may even tire of them. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. Regardless, if I’m out and about and passing a pagoda with time to spare, I’ll normally duck in for a quick look. You can too – don’t worry, it’s perfectly acceptable and almost guaranteed you’ll see interesting architecture, artwork and friendly, smiley (and often handsome) monks, whilst being shrouded in the calm, positive energy which seems to blanket every Thai pagoda and shrine.
So after you’ve marveled at the emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), massaged at Wat Po, made merit at Erawan shrine, mounted the Golden Mount and moseyed up the river past Wat Arun, drop in to any of the smaller wats and shrines you’ll see everywhere. You’ll often have the place to yourself and you may even find some unexpected surprises, as I found yesterday afternoon.
The Phallus Shrine
Devoted to a female fertility spirit, the shrine of Goddess Tubtim is tucked away in the grounds of the Swissotel Nai Lert Hotel. My visit wasn’t driven by a desire to go forth and multiply. Instead, I’d heard that this fertility shrine is decorated with hundreds of linga, a phallic representation of the potent energy of the cosmos.
I jumped off the Klong Sean Saep boat and headed into the hotel grounds, not knowing what to expect. Low and behold, tucked away behind the carpark in a small grotto under the shade of a giant Ficus tree, I was greeted by a small spirit house and shrine surrounded by phalli. Lots of phalli.
The first to greet me appeared to be the body of a pig morphed into a giant penis, which then had a penis of its own. All very confusing.
There was also an array of wooden phalli propped up around the sacred tree in which the spirit lives. Apparently women who wish to be blessed by the fertility spirit make offerings of jasmine, incense, lotus and linga. If they enjoy success with their blessing they’ll often return to place another offering. Rumor has it this spirit has a good success rate.
I didn’t make an offering myself, just spent a few minutes taking some snaps and enjoying the peace and quiet. You won’t need much time here, but it’s an interesting diversion. If you decide to visit, enjoy a ride on the klong to get there as the shrine is beside the Wireless pier inside the hotel grounds.
Originating from Hindu where the linga represented the energy and potential of the god Shiva, you’re likely to see similar linga throughout Thailand in markets, shops or even on key rings and necklaces. Some people believe they bring luck in business. I was thinking of getting one myself. But given that I already have linga on my mind more often than not (and that certainly doesn’t being me luck in business), I thought it best not to have additional reminders.
The Tubtim Shrine is not the only linga shrine in Thailand. You’ll also find plenty of phalli on offer at one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Phra Nang Beach Krabi. However in this instance the linga are offered to a spirit of the sea by fishermen hoping for a big catch. By the way, you may also recognize the name Tubtim – it’s the name of the gay beach on Koh Samet island.
Whether or not you experience any linga offerings whilst in Thailand, I’m sure you’ll have an amazing time. Enjoy!