06 Januari 2012

Explore an Ancient Brahmin Relic at Bangkok’s One and Only Giant Swing

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Tucked away within the captivating environs of Phra Nakhon district lies a Bangkok icon that has mesmerized visitors since time immemorial. Dubbed the Giant Swing this ancient structure used to perform a Brahmin religious occasion was originally built by King Rama I as far back as 1784 and occupied the space in front of the Devasathan shrine. Relocated to its current home in 1920 the structure was renovated in 1959 and then again in 2005. Dedicated and opened to the public in 2007 by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the structure as it stands today encompasses six teak tree trunks. The main swing structure contains two teak trunks that are 30m high and 3.5m in circumference while the remaining teak wood has been used to uphold the swing structure and are 20m in height and 2.3m in circumference. The old timbers from the 17th century swing are displayed at the National Museum.

Employed to enact a sacred Brahmin ceremony the Giant Swing was last used in 1935 when it was deemed the ancient practice was too dangerous to continue. Performed for centuries during the Brahmin New Year’s ceremony the Giant Swing ritual lasted an impressive 10 days during its heyday.  Conducted on the first lunar month in the Thai calendar the ceremony was held on the second lunar month after the Rattanakosin period which took root at the start of the 19th century. Dubbed the “Tri-Yampawai” or the Swing Ceremony the occasion was one of the dozen royal ceremonies that took place annually in the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Believed to be a modern day re-enactment of an epic Brahmin legend found in ancient Hindu scripture the columns of the swing stand for the mountains with the swing’s round shaped base denoting the seas and the earth. In the elaborate ceremony Brahmins would swing in an attempt to grab a bag full of coins placed on a pillar.

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