Sunday, January 06, 2008

Buddha bling

Jatokrum are all the rage here.

These are amulets that supposedly protect you against harm and they come in a wide range of styles and material at costs that range from pennies to thousands of dollars. Most feature round medals of Buddha or monks or Ganish and other holy idols and are worn around the neck on heavy silver, beaded or gold chains. A policeman from the southern Thai village Mikey is working in began the rage, intending the medals as a fund-raiser for his local temple. They caught on to the point where sale of the jewelry represents a hunk of the country's GNP. People vie to get the latest styles and amass collections of the amulets and some believe that nothing can hurt them while they have Buddha on their side -- or around their neck. One of our guides who collects them -- he wore a chain with a half dozen different medals around his neck -- told us about how he was in a motorcycle accident and came out not even scratched. Mikey has seen people rub their jatokrums over injuries to promote healing.

On a visit to a Chiang Mai temple, Marco and I bought amulets out of curiosity. As we shopped Thai people came up to discuss the relative merits of our selection and to oversee our choices and show us their amulets.

The brother, however, found the whole thing nuts and back at the hotel Marco good-naturely posed in his finery.

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