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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2643

Giant Swing bows out after 224 years: Historic Bangkok landmark removed with ritual ceremony

Bangkok, 08 October, (Asian Tribune.com): After being scarred by weather for 224 years, the rotting Giant Swing underwent a ritual ceremony for its removal yesterday, paving the way for the installation of a new swing in December.The Swing -  the red wooden landmark of the city, known in Thai as Sao Ching Cha, is a national historic site. The Swing - the red wooden landmark of the city, known in Thai as Sao Ching Cha, is a national historic site.

The red wooden landmark of the city, known in Thai as Sao Ching Cha, is a national historic site.

Bangkok Governor Apirak Kosayodhin led Hindi ceremony by Thai Brahmin and Buddhist ceremony at the auspicious time of 13.29 to worship and remove wooden pegs from the top of the swing on Bamrungmuang Road, in front of the Bangkok Metropolitan office. The swing will be completely removed on Monday.

"After the ritual, officers need some time to put up a blind to hide the actual removal from the sight of passers-by. We are concerned that city people may be startled by the disappearance of a structure sacred to them," Apirak said.

After its removal, the old 21-metre-high structure will be kept at the "Devasathan" - Hindu temple (Shiva’s Temple) as an archaeological relic, and it may be moved to the city museum when construction finishes.

The swing's front arch, which is designed in classic Thai style, will be sent to Ayudhya as a model for its replacement. "Devasathan" -  Thai Hindu temple ( Lord Shiva’s Temple)"Devasathan" - Thai Hindu temple ( Lord Shiva’s Temple)

The new swing will be made from six teak trees over 100 years old felled in Phrae and is currently under construction in Ayudhya. Two will form the swing's pillars and the rest as its four props.

Construction of the new swing will be completed in November, and it will be installed at the site in December, when the BMA will petition the Thai King to preside over the ceremony.

The original swing was built two centuries ago during the reign of King Rama I, the monarch who moved the capital to Bangkok, while the present one was completed in 1920. The front arch is from the original.

The swing had been restored several times. It was once struck by lightning, and it was set on fire decades ago when a worshipper accidentally dropped a burning joss stick into a crack in a teak pole. The latest temporary restoration took place last year.

The Sao Ching Cha served an important function in the ancient Brahmin ritual of Thiruvembavai , one of 12 royal ceremonies held each month since the Sukhothai period. Thiruvembavai is sacred Tamil hymns sung by Hindu saint Manickavasagar one the 12 thirumarai in praise lord Shiva. The ritual was held to thank the god Shiva for the rice harvest and ask for his blessing. The two pillars of the Giant Swing represent mountains while its circular base symbolises the land and ocean.

The swing ceremony was discontinued in 1935 during the reign of King Rama VII because accidents and deaths were commonplace during it.

-Asian Tribune with excerpts from The Nation -

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