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Many Thai people believe in spirits and their attitude towards them is similar to their attitude towards the living. They believe some are good and some are bad. Managing Director of Thai Aiways, Mr. Sorajak Kasemsuvan certainly took no chances when a plane skidded off the runway and plans to hold a ceremony to appease the malevolent spirits that he thinks could be responsible for the incident.
Whether ghosts exist or not one of the most popular ghost stories in Thailand is about Mae Nak Phra Khangong, and if you ask any Thai person about her they will tell you her tragic tale. The story of Nang Nak is often relayed to children to ensure that they do as they are told, or risk having their brains eaten with chili sauce, a little bit like the bogey man story used to persuade children to toe the line in Western culture.
On Sukhumvit Soi 77 in Bangkok there is a shrine dedicated o Nang Nak and people regularly come along to pay their respects to her statue that is cradling her baby. Often gifts are offered such as small tablets of rolled gold to appease her.
The Story Of Nang Nak
In a rural village in Thailand, centuries ago, Nang Nak was living a happy life with her husband whose name was Mak. Things were going very well for the happy young couple and they were both looking forward to the birth of their first child s Nang Nak had just fallen pregnant. However, things took a down turn when Mak was called up to fight in a war and this mean that Nag was left along to take care of herself.
Moths past by and eventually it was time for Mak returned home but he had been severely injured and barely survived the war. As he got closer on his journey back to the village and his wife and child he noticed that many of his fellow travelers were not acknowledging his presence or even speaking to him. However he soon forgot about that when he arrived home to be greeted by his beautiful wife Nang and their new baby. Life very soon went back to normal for the young couple and Nang dutifully performed all of her tasks taking care of her husband and of her baby and diligently cleaned and cared for their wooden Thai stilt house.
However, Mak started to feel that something was not quite right and he also noticed that strange things were occurring in the village. When a friend of Mak’s decided to visit him things started to take a more sinister turn. His friend along with other people in the village knew that Nang had died in childbirth and her child had died along side her and yet Mak was living with the ghost of his departed wife and seemed to be totally unaware what had happened while he was away at war.
Nang’s ghost was unable to accept her untimely death and the thought of losing her husband and was now projecting an alternate world, disguising the real events from Mak.
Maks friend never got as far as telling him that he was living with a ghost as he had intended as Nang gilled him before he could disclose the truth. The ghost of Nang became more and more protective of Mak went on to kill anybody that appeared to be a threat to her or anybody who was even considering telling him the truth.
Mak had no idea of his true situation until one day he witnessed a strange occurrence that made him begin to realize that the world that he thought he was living in was actually a charade implemented by his dead wife. While she was upstairs preparing a meal for them Mak saw a lemon fall through a gap in the floorboards and horrifyingly he then saw his wife’s arm distend and stretch all the way down to the floor below to pick up the fruit. Mak was in a state of shock and began to see cracks appear in what he thought was a perfect home life and realized that far from living in a home that was being beautifully kept by his dutiful wife he was living in a derelict shack. Once he saw the truth he fled to the local temple.
Along with other terrified villagers he tried to rid the village of the ghost of Nang and they burnt down the now dilapidated shack however this did not rid the village of Nang, it simply angered her even more.
The local shamen was called and asked to exorcise her ghost but she was far too powerful such was her devotion to her husband and the villagers decided to call somebody more powerful to rid the village of the ghost.
The countries most revered Buddhist monk was then located and he arrived to tackle the spirit of Nang. Nang made many attempts to evade the monk but eventually he overpowered her spirit and finally she repented and allowed her husband to be free of her and start a new life.
In order for to destroy the spirit of Nang and let her soul find some peace thee body of Nang was exhumed and the monk retrieved a piece of bone from her forehead. Her body as laid to rest and the ghost of Nang was no more.
Legend has it that the piece of skill was later made into a broach that was worn by the monk until his death. It later arrived into the possession of His Royal Highness Prince Chumbhorn Ketudomsak and subsequently passed through the hands of many people. The whereabouts of the broach is now unknown but the sad story of Nang Nak continues to live on.
The full story of Nang Nak has been made into this film.