Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Tuad Yaita Thabo: People's Beliefs in Thungwang Subdistrict, Muang District, Songkhla Province

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Tuad Yaita Thabo: People's Beliefs in Thungwang Subdistrict, Muang District, Songkhla Province

Article excerpt

Abstract

Tuad Yaita Thabo has been believed in as a sacred entity in the community of Thabo, Thungwang Subdistrict. Formerly, it was a small stucco sculpture, one foot high, located outdoors near a community well. The sacredness of Tuad Yaita Thabo has been formed through a folktale about a holy spirit housed in the figure and any disrespect to this entity was prohibited. It is believed that violation of this prohibition might cause sickness and suffering; however, respect for such a sacred entity could bring contentment as desired. For instance, some community members who encountered life difficulties visited this place to ask for assistance and support and made a pledge to make a votive offering after their life difficulties were solved, raising the reputation of its sacredness within the community. Then, a small pavilion was built to house the sculpture and a religious ritual has been held annually to worship it. The processes of forming the sacredness of Tuad Yaita Thabo have been passed within the community from generation to generation through oral tradition. This revealed the process of creating beliefs in a holy spirit as a unique identity of Thai southerners. Currently, such beliefs as there is in Tuad Yaita Thabo still play important roles as a central moral support, spiritual comfort, and empowerment to community members constantly facing difficulties. Such beliefs also bring about the community unity in order to live in harmony.

Keyword: beliefs, Songkhla Tuad Yaita Thabo

1. Introduction

Songkhla, a province along the eastern coast of southern Thailand, is located in between 6° 14' to 7°56' North latitude and 100° to 101°07' East longitude (Songmuang & Thiangdham, 1999). This province has enjoyed a long history with existing evidence of cultural beliefs in Brahmanism and Buddhism. This has been supported by many cultural objects and sites discovered in the area, such as Lingams (a Hindu phallic symbol of creative power), caves as places of worship, Buddha images and Mahayana Buddhist deities (Srisuchat, 1999). Moreover, traditional beliefs in spirits have been observed in forms of existing folktales, worshiped figures, and buildings which house sacred sculptures as well as in the form of sacred rites. Although the majority of the local residents are Theravada Buddhists, these traditional beliefs in sacred objects, spirits, deities and sacred rites rooted in Brahmanism, and Hinduism have blended into their Buddhist life patterns as witnessed in their ways of daily life.

Among these traditional beliefs held by southern Thais, there appears a belief in Tuads, which refers to sacred entities including trees, such as the Pipal trees, Banyan trees, or animals such as snakes, crocodiles, tigers, and elephants. These sacred figures may include stones or heart wood, in the belief that they house spirits who could give protection and blessings, both physical and spiritual, ft is also believed that these sacred figures could save life from danger or could bring luck in business with an increase in sales. Tuads represent spirits with highly supernatural powers, ft is believed that these spirits bring prosperity if revered and/or sufferings if disrespected. Tuads can be seen in many forms. Some are believed to be half-animal/half-deity such as Tuad-Ngu (snakes), or Tuad-Chang (elephants). Some may appear in the human form such as Tuad-Hum, as revered by residents in the area of Hua Khao Daeng in Songkhla Province.

Thungwang Subdistrict is located in Muang District of Songkhla. ft is assumed that the area was formerly resided by a Muslim named Wang, who escaped from the battle after a Pattani Ruler attacked Songkhla City but unsuccessfully. He and his companions then escaped and settled down there. Later, others, both Muslims and Buddhists, moved in. Currently, many Muslims are living in Villages No. 9 and 8, adjacent to the communities belonging to Buddhists who have faith in both Buddhism and Tuads, but the latter, they believe, could save them, shelter them, and provide them with happiness and blessings. …

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