Wandering around the Rattanakosin area of Bangkok I came across the fascinating signpost shown above.
Phra Mae Thorani Twisting Her Hair! What is that all about? Following the sign led me to a statue of a woman twisting her incredibly long hair. It occurred to me that I had seen many similar such representations of the same statue in my travels around Thailand but I had not paid too much attention.
Research led me to discover that Mae Thorani is a Thai and Laotian Buddhist Goddess. To paraphrase Wikipedia: She is recognized as The Goddess of the Earth who is often shown wringing the cool waters of detachment out of her hair. The water drowns the forces of temptation sent by the demon Mara to distract the Buddha as he meditated under the Bohdi tree.
Apparently this bodaciously evil dude sent his three daughters, whose Anglicized names translate into the delightfully named Thirst, Desire and Delight, to seduce the Buddha and stop him from attaining enlightenment. They failed and, rumour has it, all three are now working in the bars of Patpong.
Wikipedia goes on to say: ' A statue of Mae Thorani protecting Buddha will be found in every Thai and Lao temple, sometimes beside or in front of the main Buddha image on the altar, or outside the viharn.' I have certainly seen many such statues, but I do not recollect seeing them in every temple in Thailand and Laos and I have visited scores of them. However I am not always the most observant person when it comes to noticing the smaller details, so can anyone verify the veracity of that statement?