|Sao Ching Cha sometimes known as the "Giant Swing", stands directly in front of the Wihan of Wat Suthat. It was the sight of the ancient Brahmin rite known as 'Tri-yampawai' which had been passed on since time of Sukhothai and enacted in the succeeding capitals of Ayutthaya and Thonburi. The monument was erected in 1784 by order of King Rama I shortly after founding the city in 1782. (B.E 2325) Triyampawai was the enactment of an ancient Hindu epic depicting the creation of a new world by the god Brahma who sent the god Siva down to look after the new world. With the decent of Siva, the Nagas (celestial serpents) wrapped themselves around mountains on both sides of the sea in order to hold the earth in place while the god stepped down with only one foot, fearing the infant earth was too soft to receive him. Yet the earth stood fast. The nagas rejoiced at the strength of the new world and plunged into the seas in celebration. |
The two pillars of the swing represent the mountains on either side of the sea, while the circular base represent the earth and the seas. The ritual calls for the participants (naliwan who represent the nagas, to swing back and forth on a specially constructed board calling the gods to witness the event.
The ritual was intended to instill a sense of security and confidence in the minds of the people that the new capitl city would be strong. The sponsors of the event spent vast sums of money on it and the accompanying festivities, thus illustrating that the economy was stable. The celebration was held for ten days at the end of December or early January. When the country changed from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in 1932, the event was discontinued.
Still today, the swing remains on Bumrungmueng Road, a sign of the enduring strength of Bangkok as the capital of Thailand.