Nakorn Sri Thammarat | Thailand

Wat Chedi Ai Khai Nakhon Si Thammarat

Family Thailand Tour 2020

Nakhon Si Thammarat | Thailand

28 Jan 2020 | Tue

Day 03 of 18

  • Drive | Hat Yai to Surat Thani
  • Wat Chedi Ai Khai Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Hotel | Blu Monkey Hub Hotel Surat Thani

Wat Chedi Ai Khai Nakhon Si Thammarat

Today is a travel day, heading to Surat Thani and then onward to Koh Samui. We were lucky to be passing near Thailand’s famous Wat Chedi Ai Khai in Nakhon Si Thammarat.

Wat Chedi Ai Khai Nakhon Si Thammarat

Many Thai people believe that the spirit of a young boy (named Ai Khai, which is also slang for Egg Boy) lives at Wat Chedi Ai Khai. People from all over Thailand come here to make merit/offerings to Ai Khai hoping in return that he will grant them wealth (like winning the lottery), good health, and general prosperity. It is a Thai Buddhist temple, but in recent years, it has turned into more of a large tourist attraction, especially during the hard economic times brought on by COVID-19.

The first legend is according to the narrative of Kirachaiwanit (2015) that Luang Poo Tuad hiked from Wat Pakoh on his pilgrimage with a ten-year-old boy named “Ai Khai”. The monk and the boy stopped on the way for several days to preach the villagers in the area at a deserted temple that was under the ground showing only the tip of the pagoda and an old religious hall. One day, Ai Khai became very seriously ill and later died. Luang Poo Tuad then cremated Ai Khai’s body and made the spirit stay at that temple to protect the temple’s fortune and wait until designated merit makers were born to renovate the temple.

The first legend coincided with the second one which is based on Phromwiset (1976), who says that the legend of “Ai Khai, Wat Chedi Child” appeared in the area of Moo 7 Chalong Sub-district, Sichon District, Nakhon Si Thammarat Province, the location of the temple nowadays. It is about a young child of 9-10 years old, whom the villagers believe to be a sacred spirit living here from the Ayuddhaya Period. Some villagers say the boy did live there in the past and his spirit ‘Ai Khai” could bring good luck, fortune and fulfil requested hopes and wishes. Obvious examples were cases of missing cattle that were finally found because of the prays to Ai Khai for help. Eventually, a carved figure was built out of intense faith and power of worship to be resided by “Ai Khai, Wat Chedi Child”.

Ai Khai, Wat Chedi”, a wooden carved figure that people respect and place their faith in, has led to countless prays for help until it has been rumoured by words of mouth that Ai Khai of Wat Chedi “entertains requests for help and blesses those who worship him.” Thus, a non-stop flow of an unimaginable increasing number of people from other areas travel to the temple to pray to Ai Khai and this phenomenon finally caught the attention of the media who wish to make this news.

Stucco Chicken Figurines – Representing fighting cocks were Ai Khai’s favourite pets while he was alive. At first, live fighting cocks were brought to the temple as offerings, so they were scattered in the temple area and the number continuously increased. The temple committee wanted to reduce the problems of chicken manure left on the ground, so they announced that stucco chickens be used instead of live fighting cocks. This is why the temple open area is crowded with stucco chickens, both big and small. Next, a huge stucco chicken of about 10,000-15,000 baht was offered to the temple by a Malay millionaire and had to be placed lining up the entrance road. Many other people followed suit. Thus, all roads to the temple were lined with many stucco chickens which acted as guides. People spread the word “You will not get lost when traveling to Wat Chedi Ai Khai because chickens will show you the way.” Both sides of the roads to the temple are lined with stucco chickens.

Firecrackers – Besides the stucco chickens used as offerings to Ai Khai, local and international tourists from Malaysia and Singapore show gratitude for fulfillment of their wishes by lighting firecrackers which make loud crackling sounds continuously for hours and days, especially Saturdays and Sundays. More and more visitors to the temple resulted in having to move the place to light firecrackers three times (Jaihaw, 2020) due to the huge piles of the fragments left. Currently, the fragments are piling so high that the piles are compared to “Mountains of Firecrackers”.

Publication“Ai Khai” Wat Chedi: Perspectives of Meaning Creation as the “Sacred Space” (E-ISSN 2773-9953)

Followers Applying Gold Leaf to the Statue of Ai Khai

The temple grounds have an eclectic mix of Buddhist and Ai Khai themed displays – each set up for followers to make wishes and offerings to Ai Khai (and Buddha). The most important display in the temple is the statue of Ai Khai.

There are many ways to make offerings (merit) but one of the most common is to purchase, from the temple, layers of very thin gold leaf to apply to the statue. It is also common practice to apply gold leaf to the statutes of Buddha.

Thousands of Stucco Chicken Figurines on Display at Wat Chedi Ai Khai

Thai people have their own unique and personal ways of making wishes, offerings, and merit at Wat Chedi. If one’s wish comes true, then they would need to return Wat Chedi Ai Khai and offer a gift – usually in the form of toys, sweets, firecrackers, and stucco chicken figurines. This is why there are thousands of various-sized stucco chicken figurines on display all around the temple.

It is also popular for Thai people to wear an amulet necklace of Ai Khai for safety and good luck.

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