June 9, 2022 – Thai people are famous the world over for their generosity and fun-loving nature. Equally linked to the Thai identity is a strong belief in the supernatural. We see it everywhere: white cars covered with “This vehicle is red” stickers, people wearing certain colors on certain days, auspicious bracelets and amulets paired with professional suits, lucky wallpaper adorning mobile phone home screens, and mystical tattoos with protective properties. Then there’s the obsession with lucky numbers. Many Thais look out for lucky numbers to try at lottery drawings twice a month, while others pay extra for lucky mobile phone numbers – all in search of better fortune.
Thais have faith in and find courage from the supernatural and are truly “superstitious” or on the path of “Mutelu”. A recent study by Mahidol University’s College of Management, titled “Marketing in the Uncertain World”, revealed that more than 52 million Thais believe in the supernatural. Of them, 58 per cent have developed superstitious beliefs as a result of the people around them. The superstitious side of Thai people is most visible during phases of uncertainty, or around the time of key decisions.
The COVID-19 pandemic is one such example. Over the past two years, uncertainty was everywhere as the Thai economy and public health situation destabilized. Many people lost their means of livelihood and struggled with debt. As obstacles grew, Thais looked for sources of hope and support. It was around this time that word spread of the powers of Luang Phor Plod Ni at Wat Phra That Wayo in Chachoengsao province. The sacred statue was said to have granted the wishes of many visiting worshippers. The luckiest of them were said to have won big lottery prizes. As an increasing number of people got wind of these stories, visitorship at the temple skyrocketed. From just a few hundred visitors a day previously, thousands of people started turning up at Wat Phra That Wayo each day. Today, on the temple’s busiest days, the number of visitors easily exceeds 10,000.
Ms. Aree Khatkhan, a lottery vendor at Wat Phra That Wayo, said that her trade has become very brisk since mid-2021 after a worshipper at the temple won a huge lottery prize. In the past, she would sell just 100 lottery tickets each 15-day lottery period. But these days, her sales have since multiplied. During some lottery periods, she can sell as many as 2,000 tickets thanks to the huge rise in temple visitors. After saying their prayers at the temple, visitors often feel good and try their luck by buying a lottery ticket. According to Ms. Aree, a worshipper once hit the Bt30 million jackpot. In May 2022, another worshipper won a Bt12 million prize. The lucky worshipper even came back to offer votives and gifts to the deities at the temple.
Mr. Ekkaphon Rueanphit, a temple worker, revealed that the number of worshippers at Wat Phra That Wayo has been increasing every year. On weekends, more than 10,000 people show up per day to ask for blessings from Luang Phor Plod Ni. Cast in the Maravijaya attitude, this sacred statue is believed to have blessed people with the ability to clear debt, make money, and fulfill their wishes. Whenever a lottery drawing approaches, the number of worshippers rises significantly. In such situations, high-speed and reliable communication signals become even more important as more people need to make phone calls, access social media, and use payment apps at the crowded temple. A steady rise in demand isn’t just isolated to Wat Phra That Wayo. According to dtac, data usage across Thailand now averages 26.1 GB per person per month.
Mr. Singhanath Khetsamak, a temple official who oversees amulet stalls in the monastic compound, talked about how essential internet and data services are to his work. “I rely on my phone to update and manage the Facebook page of Luang Phor Plod Ni, Wat Phra That Wayo and the Facebook page of Luang Phor Plod Ni’s amulets. I also create posts about amulets for interested people, and also use my mobile phone to discuss deals and check information. If other people, especially buyers, do not have internet service, I will turn on the hotspot function so they can access internet services from my device over Wi-Fi. I use a dtac SIM card, and I must say that dtac’s signal has improved every single day. Thanks to good internet access, I am able to sell stuff online and upload posts smoothly. Things have become much easier for me”.
Indeed, dtac has expanded its network on a continuous basis to accommodate growing usage across Thailand, including at Wat Phra That Wayo. The expansion focuses mainly on the 700 MHz frequency. During the past quarter alone, dtac has installed more than 2,800 low-frequency base stations, and as of Q1 2022, approximately 15,600 base stations operate on the 700 MHz frequency, leading to improved customer experiences on both 4G and 5G.
700 MHz is a low frequency band, and dtac uses it for network expansion because it not only efficiently supports service coverage in remote areas, but also improves service quality in more urban areas, particularly at high-rise offices and condos. Thanks to these improvements, dtac responds better to customer needs and behaviors in all areas, including heavy-traffic zones.
Back in Chachoengsao province, Ms. Aree is also delighted with how dtac’s high-speed internet supports her business. She said, “It is now so convenient for me to sell lottery tickets. With just one mobile phone, I can easily accept payments and make money transfers. I can buy anything during the day with my mobile phone because it has dtac-enabled internet access. My life has become much easier. I can even watch movies from my device during my free time.”
She added with a laugh, “That said, I have hardly had any free time these days because a huge number of people flock to Wat Phra That Wayo every day.”
Mr Ekkapon said, “We believe that Luang Phor Plod Ni likes that people come here to pray, meditate, and make merit. But the best luck goes to people who have made the biggest merit.”
Visiting Wat Phra That Wayo
- Wat Phra That Wayo, also known as Wat Huai Nam Sap, was constructed in 1985 near Lad Krathing Reservoir in Sanam Chai Khet district, Chachoengsao province.
- The Great Pagoda of Wat Phra That Wayo is particularly striking. Shaped like a three-layer bell, it has three colors – gold, blue and white. From the top of the pagoda, people can get a great view of Lad Krathing Reservoir, a recreational area with pleasant nature landscapes.
- Highlights for temple visitors include Luang Phor Plod Ni, Luang Phor Yai which is cast in a blessing attitude, the Great Pagoda, the Reclining Buddha, the body of temple founder Suchitra Panthong, and the Naga shrine.