วันเสาร์ที่ 30 กรกฎาคม พ.ศ. 2554

[Article] The legend of "Chao Luang Kham Daeng" and "Chiang Dao Cave"

[Article] The legend of "Chao Luang Kham Daeng" and "Chiang Dao Cave"Roytavan : Writer
The cave of Chiang Dao is located 70 kilometres north of Chiang Mai on the road to Fang. The Chiang Dao Caves penetrate in to the Doi Chiang Dao which is a massive outcrop of rock rising to a height of 2,175 metres to be the third highest in Thailand. The mountain is usually shrouded in cloud and the area is home to Lisu, Lahu and Karen villages.

The Caves have had a significant presence for the locals for over 1,000 years as is evident by the ancient Shan Chedi near the entrance and the folklore surrounding the Caves. The caves are venerated by the Thai and Shan people as is evidenced by the offerings, statues and decorations present at the entrance and inside. At various locations within the Caves are small temples and statues of the Buddha.

Chiang Dao shelters beneath the impressive bulk of Doi Chiang Dao, a massive outcrop of rock which rises steeply over the town to a height of 2,175 metres. The peak Thailand's third highest is usually shrouded in clouds, and is home to a number of hilltribe villages, including Lisu, Lahu and Karen settlements.

The legend of "Chao Luang Kham Daeng"
In a region where animism and Buddhism intertwine, belief in ghosts and protective spirits is still common. In Chiang Mai, it is believed that sacred spirits, called phi, watch over the city and protect its residents from misfortune.

One of the oldest and most important of the protective spirits in Chiang Mai is a being known as "Chao Luang Kham Daeng". An present day example of this old belief of spirits is the legend of "Chao Luang Kham Daeng", a royal spirit of Chiang Dao and his subordinate spirits who governed the Mount of Chiang Dao for many hundreds of years and abode in Chiang Dao cave. Their power prevails in the upper Chiang Mai and Lamphun basin as one can find shrines of "Chao Luang Kham Daeng" and spirit houses of subordinates in many communities. During the Songkran festival, many communities, such as Ban Mae Na in Chiang Dao district, will hold a ceremony to worship Chao Luang Kham Daeng. The spirit will be invited to remove sufferings and bless people with happiness.

It is widely believed that he dwells in the Chiang Dao Mountain, along with his spirit-wife, Nang In Lao. Largely by virtue of the marriage to his indigenous partner, Lanna people believe him to be Lord of the Spirits of the region, his name always invoked first in local ceremonies.

Stories about his human existence, when he was a prince of Payao, are to be found in the famous local chronicles, the "Dumnarn and Pongsawadan". According to these written, as well as the oral, sources the young ruler made the pledge to capture an elusive deer, but was exiled because he failed to do so.

However, having continued to follow the deer, he eventually reached Chiang Dao, where it turned into a bewitching beauty whom he fell in love with. Not realizing how he had been beguiled, however, he later continued on the trail of the deer down to where Chiang Mai now stands, following the advice of a reusi (hermit) there that this was a particularly auspicious location for settlement. Having married into the Lua aristocracy of the locality, and fathered a large family, Suwanna Khamdaeng - as he is also known - returned to Chiang Dao cave and is still believed to be living there and protecting those who honour him appropriately, with his eternally bewitching shape-shifting (now deer, now human being) wife, Nang In Lao.

A pavilion honouring this spirit is to be seen close to the cave entrance.