You may have seen Ganesh or “Ganesha” in various places on your travels around Pattaya, you might not have give it a second thought, but next time you see the figure of a man with an elephants head, well, now you know that is Ganesh the Hindu Deity, known in Thailand as “Phra Phikanet” or “Phra Phikanesuan”. Along with a host of other Hindu Deities including Brahma, Ganesh is worshiped throughout Thailand.
It may seem a little strange that Thai Buddhists also worship Hindu deities, but Thailand has an almost unique “spiritual fusion” which means Buddhism, Hinduism and Animism sit side by side, “literally”, you will see Hindu Deities sharing the same altar as Buddha in many houses and establishments, and Hindu Deities sit inside spirit houses alongside Animist spirit houses.
What does Ganesh look like.
Ganesh comes in various guises, more often than not he is sat with one leg raised, but he can also be standing or lying down, he might have 2 arms or he might have multiple arms, he might even have multiple heads. Ganesh’s basic form is a man’s body with an elephants head, one tusk is broken. He is often depicted holding objects such a 4 pronged fork, or playing musical instruments. He comes in many sizes and is made of from a multitude of different materials.
What does Ganesh represent.
Like many other deities in Thailand, Ganesh is worshiped as a deity of success and good fortune, he is also the remover of obstacles. He is especially favoured in the fields of arts and entertainment.
The photo above is of a concrete Ganesh outside a restaurant at Bai Hai in South Pattaya, it looks like a violin he is playing.
This one (see photo above) is a miniature Ganesh, only 3 or 4 inches high, he is holding a 4 pronged fork, what looks like his broken tusk and another item I can’t recognize. These miniature Ganesh figurines are popular altar pieces in households throughout Thailand.