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Destruction of Hindu deity at Erawan Shrine

The big news today was the attack on Tuesday 21 March 2006 on Erawan Shrine located at the Rajprasong intersection. A Thai man aged 27 years old with a history of mental history, entered the popular shrine and used a hammer to smash the statue of the Hindu deity, Brahma. Shortly after the act of vandalism, Thanakorn Pakdeepol was beaten to death by two of the worshippers at the shrine. The two men, described as garbage collectors, were arrested and charged with second-degree murder. In the Nation, an article ran predicting that the closing the shrine until a new statue can be made could costs Thailand dearly, predicting one million tourists would be lost. The government has responded for a quick restoration of the famous deity, promising to have the restored statue in two months. Fragments of the original statue will be used to make the new one.

The Nation also reported on the “bad omen” nature of this destruction, suggesting it is connected with “the Thaksin Era, characterized by unfettered capitalism and greedy economic growth.”

There is a great deal of international coverage to the destruction. With some describing the killing of Thanakorn Pakdeepol as a lynching.

Erawan Shrine is a major setting for the first Calvino novel, Spirit House. The Bangkok-based publisher, Siam Inter announced today that it would released its Thai edition version of Spirit House by the end of March. Spirit House has also be translated into Chinese, German, and Japanese. Early this year, a German documentary film crew were in Bangkok and filmed me at Erawan Shrine, and a couple of months later a French film crew from Quebec also film a sequence about the Calvino novels at the shrine.

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