Visitors return to reopened shrine

Visitors praying at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok after it reopened yesterday morning, less than 48 hours after the bomb attack on Monday night. A constant stream of people turned up yesterday to offer flowers and notes in memory of the victims. The Thai
Visitors praying at Erawan Shrine in Bangkok after it reopened yesterday morning, less than 48 hours after the bomb attack on Monday night. A constant stream of people turned up yesterday to offer flowers and notes in memory of the victims. The Thai government has said that the central location of the bomb blast - near shopping malls, hotels and the popular shrine - showed that the perpetrators wanted to cause maximum carnage. Twenty people were killed and more than 120 people injured in the explosion.ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

BANGKOK • The smell of incense filled the air around the Erawan Shrine yesterday as it reopened less than 48 hours after a bomb attack that killed at least 20 people, many of them foreigners.

Devotees, tourists and family members of the victims accompanied by Buddhist monks carried flowers and joss sticks into the Hindu shrine.

Fresh cement filled the crater along the now-tangled fence of the shrine, where the bomb was believed to have been planted during the evening rush hour on Monday.

"For me, coming here is not letting them win," English tourist Kate Brady said yesterday, after lighting incense in front of the damaged golden face of Lord Brahma.

"Whoever they are," added her husband Mike.

The 20 people who were killed in Monday's attack included people from China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.

Seven of them were Thai, seven were foreigners and the nationalities of the other six are unknown, according to Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.

The Thai government said that the central location of the bomb blast - near shopping malls, hotels and the popular shrine - showed that the perpetrators wanted to cause maximum carnage. More than 120 people were injured in the explosion.

The Erawan Shrine, originally built to appease superstitious construction workers, morphed to become a tourist attraction that typifies the kingdom's unusual blend of Hindu and Buddhist traditions.

Few visitors who make their way to Bangkok's main shopping district fail to notice the shrine, which sits at the foot of a luxury hotel on one of the capital city's busiest junctions. The smell of sandalwood incense and the jangle of temple music provide a welcome respite for both devotees and curious onlookers.

The Ratchaprasong intersection where the shrine is located has also been a site for political protests in recent years.

The Erawan Shrine was erected in 1956 after a string of accidents befell the construction of a government-owned luxury hotel. An astrologer recommended building a shrine to the four-faced Hindu god Brahma, known locally as Phra Phrom.

According to local legend, once the shrine went up, the problems stopped and devotees have flocked there ever since.

BLOOMBERG, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Visitors return to reopened shrine'. Print Edition | Subscribe