Bangkok’s Giant Swing

Giant Swing outside Wat Suthat in Bangkok

In my quest to see the finer things on offer in Bangkok I was armed with a list of places to see my last trip. Knowing I would only be in Bangkok five or six days made it a mad scramble to get everything in and some days,  such as the day I visited Wat Suthat, the weather wasn’t cooperating.

Relocation of swing in 1920You’ll know you are getting close to Wat Suthat when you see a large red arch high in the sky. This is the giant swing that is just outside the temple. Originally built in 1784 by King Rama I,  it was placed in front of the Devasathan Shrine in Bangkok. It was later rebuilt in 1920 after a lightning strike and moved to it’s current location just outside Wat Suthat. Major repair work was done again to the giant swing in 2005-2006

The giant swing is rooted in Hindu and Indian beliefs and was part of an annual Brahmin Ceremony called ” Tri-yampawai ” or swing ceremony held in the first lunar month of the Thai lunar calendar. During the ceremony men would try to swing their way to the very top using long ropes in hopes of grabbing a bag of coins placed there.

Ceremony in early 1930'sThe ceremony is a representation of the epic myth in which Uma Devi makes a bet with Shiva whereby a serpent is suspended between two Putsa tress over a river and swinging back and forwards to aiming to strike Shiva to make him fall and thus signify the end of the world. Shiva stands in its path on one leg with the other crossed and when struck does not fall thus signifying that the creation of the earth was sound, secure and would remain strong.

It is believed there was a mandate at one time to have a giant swing in every major city, and while it’s certain that there were other swings erected this swing is the only known swing to still exist. In 1932 the ceremony itself was banned due to many serious and fatal accidents.

Bangkok's Giant SwingThe original timbers of this rebuilt Swing are now housed at Bangkok National Museum. The main poles of the structure are made of teak and are over 30 meters in height and 3.5 meters in circumference. The base supporting the teak timbers are 20 meters high and 2.3 meters in circumference.

I didn’t make it into Wat Suthat this day because soon after the above picture was taken the skys opened up and it rained buckets until the sun went down. But I did make it to see the Giant swing and that was well worth getting wet for. I have to thank Martyn over at Beyond the Mango Juice for letting me know about this treasure.

sig1 Bangkoks Giant Swing

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Comment by MartynNo Gravatar
2009-08-30 15:21:22

Talen as soon as I saw the post title I thought he made it there for sure and boy I bet you’re glad you did. What a magnificent structure, it looks even bigger than I imagined. You really are great when it comes to research and the story you have posted about the origin of the Giant Swing is testament to that. I hope it stays dry for you next time.
Martyn´s last blog ..Frustrating Days My ComLuv Profile

Comment by TalenNo Gravatar
2009-08-30 17:09:38

Martyn, I would have never known about it if it wasn’t for you. I did make it back a few days later to see the Wat and I’ll be posting a story and pictures on that later. Really beautiful place.

Comment by MartynNo Gravatar
2009-08-31 03:57:40

Talen thanks for the link and I’m glad to have been of some help. I’ll look forward to your post on Wat Suthat. Regards.
Martyn´s last blog ..Coconuts Keep Falling My ComLuv Profile

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