Every set of traffic lights on every highway, in every town, city and district of Thailand is a potential market for sellers of Phuang Malai. What is Phuang Malai ?, take a look at the photo below, the hawker is holding several garlands of assorted flowers, these are called ‘Phuang Malai’.
Phuang Maalai and the Dashboard Buddha’s are one of the first instances of Thai culture most visitors witness, and the purpose of the Dashboard Buddha’s and the Phuang Malai is to make the travelers journey safer. The garland of flowers is usually hung upon the drivers rear-view mirror.
Assorted Buddhist and Hindu amulets and figurines adorn the inside of vehicles to ward off evil and literally to protect the occupants. Phuang Malai have a different purpose, they are offered to the goddess of travel (Mae Yanang). In much the same way, and for the same purpose as boats throughout Thailand have their prow adorned with brightly colored ribbons, to ask that the journey goddess assures a safe passage.
This description of Phuang Malai might not be correct !!.
The notion that Phuang Malai are offered to the journey goddess (Mae Yanang) is not well documented, and much of it stems from hearsay. Please feel free to offer a more appropriate description, use the comments box to add your input.
Other uses of Phuang Malai.
Phuang Malai are not used solely as a good luck charm for travelers, they are given as tokens of respect at temples, Buddha statues, Thai spirit house and Hindu shrines. They are used in wedding and funeral ceremonies, also to welcome guests and worn around the neck to show importance.