Former Thai monk detained by police in July claims he administered nothing to a ‘cursed’ girl but ‘holy water’. He has been charged with four others in connection with the tragic death
A former Buddhist monk has been arrested in connection with the death of young girl after she took part in a superstitious ritual. The incident occured in March this year and four others had already surrendered to Thai police in connection with the matter.
Phra Opas Srisanga, a 43-year-old former monk accused of performing a curse reversing ritual that supposedly killed the girl four months before, was arrested on July 17th by Thai police in Kaeng Khro in Chaiyaphum province. He had worked on fishing trawlers in Krabi while on the run from authorities following the death of the girl. When fishing activity was disrupted by rough monsoon, he went on to live with his relatives in Chaiyaphum shortly before being arrested. Coincidentally, Chaiyaphum was the poor girl’s home province.
Thai father regrets letting visiting monks perform ritual on his daughter
Back in March, Sriranga along with two other monks, arrived at the girls village. They stayed temporarily in an abandoned temple in the district of Kaeng Khro in Chaiyaphum province. The former monk told the police that he noticed a young girl, whose name is withheld, had a dark band on her skin neck and told the girl’s father, 48 year old Khan Cherdjorhor that his daughter was suffering under a ‘black curse’. The visiting monks had arrived in the girls village on March 18th. Though his daughter was in good health and exhibited no other strange symptoms, the man allowed the monks to perform a cleansing ritual. It was a decision that he would come to regret. The ritual to remove the curse on the girl took place on Sunday 25th March.
Girl suffered a violent seizure after vomiting while drinking ‘holy water’
The monks prepared what they called ‘holy water’ and asked to girl to drink it while they recited sacred verses. However, immediately after the girl consumed the water, she started to vomit violently. The young girl suffered a seizure and appeared to lose consciousness. Doctors later revealed that The victim was rushed to district hospital, and later transferred to the better equipped Chaiyaphum hospital where she was pronounced dead. Doctors believe that the seizure caused the girl’s brian to be deprived of oxygen resulting in her death.
After monks fled father and mother called in the police to investigate
Right after learning of the girl’s death, the monks fled from the district though they had promised to take responsibility were anything to go wrong, according to the grieved father. The girls father and mother then made a complaint to the police on Sunday the 27th March. They named four people in addition to Phra Opas Srisanga and met Deputy National Police Chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul the following day. All five people involved in the ritual were charged with colluding to commit recklessness resulting in the death of the young girl. The four other named people surrendered to Thai police on April 6th last.
The police then began a manhunt for the missing monk. The suspects who turned themselves in had denied all charges. Srisanga, after the incident, left for northeastern Thailand where he had a local temple defrock him out of monkhood and started looking for work as a layman. After being arrested, the former monk claimed that his ‘holy water’ was well-known for helping people quit alcohol and cigarettes, and that he didn’t mix it with any harmful substance. He had earlier assure the girls family that this was the case.
Difficult to determine the cause of the Thai girl’s death as there is no evidence
Thai authorities were left in a position where it is difficult to determine the cause of the girl’s death as there is no trace of the drink used in the ritual left, and the body was cremated shortly after the girl died, as is the local tradition. A public health official in Chaiyaphum told the media that it would be difficult to conclusively identify the cause of death in absence of a specimen from the drink. It would need to have been tested toxins. Dr Passakorn Chaiyaset warned local people not to engage in any strange rituals involving the eating or drinking of substances which are unknown.
Thailand is a very superstitious country
Thailand is is a very superstitious country where traditional beliefs merge with a range of superstitions including a strong belief in spirits and curses. The beliefs are deeply ingrained and exist at all levels of Thai society. Some are very funny, such as cutting hair on Wednesday or hearing the sound of a gecko will bring bad luck while dreaming of a snake means that the dreamer is about to meet his/her soulmate. A few are quite scary, for example, if someone will see a ghost if they bend down and look between their legs or they will lose a finger if they point at a rainbow. Several customs are especially important to Thai people, like the practice of always consulting a fortune teller or Buddhist monk to pick a good day for wedding and other important events, whether they are personal matters or business.
Thai superstition can lead to a suspension of rational judgments and good sense
It is also a traditional Thai custom to wear gold-plated or silver-plated necklaces adorned with Buddhist amulets that are believed to possess powers protecting wearers from illness and accidents. Such traditions add more meaningful depth to Thai culture and have become an integral part of it However, superstitions can also inflict devastating effects on people’s lives. It can lead to a suspension of otherwise sound and rational judgment. This can lead to broken relationships, suspicion, financial loss and death as demonstrated in a notorious young girl’s death resulting from a superstitious ceremony.
Many Thai people including the rich and powerful are superstitious in business and even politics
Many Thai people earnestly believe in these traditions and practices. It is more common among poorer and and uneducated Thais but there are many powerful businessman and indeed public figures in Thailand who also live their lives according to superstitious code and beliefs. This includes figures in leading Thai companies and even some politicians. The value placed by Thai people on powerful amulets and elaborate shrines to spirits both within and without substantial homes is outward evidence that the practices are alive and well. Every year a large number visitors to Thailand, including some well known celebrities, visit famous monasteries for what are believed to be powerful tatoos and even treatment for personal afflications.