| THE lovely Frangipangi plant with its creamy white blossoms is one of the most charming ornaments of the garden. The tree is called Lunthom in Thai and sounds very similar to the Thai word Rathom which means sorrow. That is the reason why the conventional Thais would not care to have Frangipani in their compound. Many of the Thais associate the tree with death and believe the tree is the abode of departed spirits particularly those who did not have a good life while alive here on earth.
| ||Same is the treatment of the Soak tree. It is thought better to not have an Ashok tree in an Indian's compound as Sita (Seeda) had to stay in a forest of Ashok trees when she was held a captive by Ravana. Many conventional Indians still hesitate to name their daughters as Sita, as Sita had more sorrow in her life than joy. The Soak tree in a Thai compound is also viewed with some trepidations of heart. |
| ||The Rak tree on the other hand is much prized. The word Rak or Ruk means love in Thai language. The flowers of the Rak tree are woven into garlands and are worn around the neck of a bride and a bridegroom. But in the olden days the flowers were used as centerpieces for floral decorations at cremation. The older villagers in Thailand would not willingly have a Rak tree in the compound as the flowers of the tree are used in cremation. |
| ||Ngiew tree with its soft wood is very much prized for making coffins. That is why a Ngiew tree is not looked on with favour in the compound. Also, in the Buddhist parables of hell we find the soft wood of Ngiew tree is often mentioned. The tree trunk has large thorns. The spirits of unfaithful wives have to climb this tree and be tortured in hell. Usually a large and ferocious tiger growls at the foot of the tree waiting for the spirit to slip and be devoured. No wonder if a Ngiew tree is suddenly found growing in the compound the householder shudders. |
| ||Phutaraksa or the lovely canna lily is not grown in the compound but planted outside the boundary as the fencing. Why ? Because the lovely plants with their flowers keep away the evil spirits. These plants and flowers are largely used in religious ceremonies. |
A very large tree is often taken by the spirits, either benevolent or malicious, as their abode. Offering have to be made if such trees are cut. The large trees with thick branches and large leaves are the abode of male spirits. Large to medium size trees give shelter to female spirits.
| ||A variety of banana trees called Gluay-Tanee are the abodes of infamous female spirits. The fruits contain a lot of seeds and are usually not eaten. It is said that if you find a lovely young girl near this banana tree, she is an evil female spirit. She will make love to a man and he will feel tempted to visit her again. A few visits and his fresh blood will be sapped by the evil female spirit resulting in a painful death. Should a young man start becoming a weak and emaciated, he is carefully watched and prevented from going to such banana trees. The lovemaking is usually carried on in an unseen manner. Such evil female spirits are called Naang Tanee. They usually come out on lovely moonlit nights when young men are in romantic moods. |
| ||Another evil plant that wreaks havoc if it happens to be planted in the house is Naang Yaem. Naang Yaem is an attractive shrub with branches of sweet smelling flowers. But as the spirit ages it turns very annoying and throws stones at the neighboring houses when every one is asleep. |
After reading this article you may wonder if there are propitious plants for your garden. Yes!
| ||The Takian tree is also to be avoided in the compound. The Takian timber is used for the making of boat. Offerings have to be made before a takian tree is cut down. Naang Takian spirit if annoyed will give out dreadful wailing sound if proper homage is not paid to her. She is also a flirt and sings mournful songs to attract wandering men. The unwitting man goes to investigate a strange sound and finds a lovely young damsel singing mournful dirges. As he goes nearer and asks her what is the trouble, she will draw him in a fond embrace and squeeze the life out of him. |
It's best for gardeners to follow the well founded belief to plant only trees that have the name of "Mah" such as mah muang (mango), mah la gor (papaya), mah prao (coconut), not only will you have good luck but your family will always have something to eat as well.
| ||The Sai tree is none other than the big banyan tree with long thick roots hanging down which are often mistaken for branches. The tree is believe to have a tutelary god who looks kindly on lovers. In the story of Unarat , written by both Si Praj in the Ayuttaya period and King Rama I in the Bangkok period, the hero Phra Unarat took shelter under the Sai tree. Before he went to sleep, he paid homage to the tree god. Being satisfied with the show of respect, the god of the Sai tree, transported him to the most beautiful woman, Naang Usha. Ever since, Every Thaiman has had a wishful thought of being carried to a lovely woman in his sleep. |
The story is mainly taken from "Folk Tales of Thailand" by P.C. Roy Chaudhury.