This is the Erawan Shrine in Bangkok at the corner of Ratchaprasong and Ratchadamri. It is one of the most sacred temples in Thailand.
One might think that it has been around for centuries, but it’s only been around since the 50s.
Back then, they were trying to build a hotel and nothing was going right. Deadlines kept getting passed by. A number of workers were killed or injured on the job site. At one point, a shipload of Italian marble sank in a freak storm, pushing back the construction even further. Nothing was going right.
The director of the project decided to consult a Brahmin, or a priest. The Brahmin took the information and consulted charts and history. He found that the spirits of the land were quite powerful. Something having to do with the land nearby being used to display prisoners in days of yore.
The spirits were angry, he said. Angry because they had started building the hotel on the wrong date. The spirits felt disrespected and needed to be appeased. So, he told the project manager to build a shrine featuring Lord Brahma, God of all creation.
And so it came to pass, that the shrine was built, the god sculpture was placed at an exacting location on an exacting date, and once in place, the hotel project continued without a hitch.
With this curative reputation now, people in need come by the thousands to pray and make an offering. Using the location as a sort of cosmic portal, or holy wishing well. Those who receive their wish are then required to return to the shrine. They make another more substantial offering and pay for a Thai religious dance troupe to dance a blessing over them, while they kneel in contemplation. Blessings received and debts settled. All is right with the universe.
The intersection, still has a reputation for a negative juju. In 2006, a man with a history of psychiatric illness, climbed onto the shrine and smashed it to pieces with a hammer before anyone could stop him. In a dubious act of compassion, he was subsequently beaten to death by an angry crowd.
Caddy corner from the shrine is a high end mall. Two coups ago, in 2010, protesters took over the mall. They set several small fires which rather mysteriously blossomed into a conflagration that caused the partial collapse of the 8 story structure.
In 2015, someone, as yet undetermined, left a pipe bomb on a bench in the area. It exploded killing 20 and injuring 125. The statue was only slightly damaged. The shrine was open for business again within 2 days.
In 2016, a woman suffered an acute stroke and seizure and lost control of her car driving right through the shrine gates and killing 6 people.
Despite all that, people keep coming and asking and receiving and paying it back. 24 hours a day, all year long. Here’s a video of the process.