The Giant Swing (Thai: เสาชิงช้า, RTGS: Sao Chingcha, pronounced [sǎw t͡ɕʰīŋ.t͡ɕʰáː] ⓘ) is a religious structure in Sao Chingcha Subdistrict, Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand. Located in front of Wat Suthat, it was formerly used in an old Brahmin ceremony, and is one of Bangkok's tourist attractions.
The Giant Swing was constructed in 1784 in front of the Devasathan shrine by King Rama I. During the reign of Rama II the swing ceremony was discontinued as the swing had become structurally damaged by lightning. In 1920 it was renovated and moved to its current location in order to make space for a gas plant. The ceremony was again performed until 1935, when it was discontinued after several fatal accidents.
The last renovations were done in 1959, and after 45 years of exposure to the elements, the wooden pillars were showing signs of serious damage. A major reconstruction began in April 2005. Six teak tree trunks were used. The two used for the main structure of the swing are over 3.5 m in circumference and over 30m in height. The remaining four are used for support and have a circumference of 2.30 metres and a height of 20 metres. The swing was taken down in late October 2006 and the work finished in December of the same year. The rebuilt swing was dedicated in royal ceremonies presided over by King Bhumibol Adulyadej in September 2007. The timbers of the original swing are preserved in the Bangkok National Museum.
In 2005, the Giant Swing, together with Wat Suthat, was proposed as a future UNESCO World Heritage site.
Wat Suthat Thep Wararam
Wat Suthat Thep Wararam, commonly shortened to "Wat Suthat", is an important temple in Thailand. Inside the grand hall is a Phra Sri Sagaya Munee, its principal Buddha image, which was acquired from Wat Mahathat in Sukhothai. Wat Suthat was built by King Rama I in the center of his capital, but it was completed in the reign of Rama III. Many people often make pilgrimages to worship the Buddha, especially on holy days such as Visakha Bucha Day and Magha Bucha Day.
Sarn Choa Po Seu or Tiger God Shrine
In the quarter there is also a well known and high regarded Chinese shrine, Sarn Choa Po Seu ('tiger shrine'). Originally it was a building on Bamrungmueng Road, where the big Chinese communities were. Later, King Rama V expanded the road and had the shrine relocated to the current location on Ta Nao Road, near WatMahanaparam. The site is a place of worship for Thai and Chinese people seeking success in career, money, love, and infant fertility.
Built in 1834, during the reign of King Rama III, the Tiger God Shrine is one of the most ancient and famous shrines in Thailand. Moreover, this shrine has beautiful interior design and has some antiquities. Most people come to pay respect to "Tua Lao Aie", a Chinese God to have good fortune, especially on Chinese New Year's Day.
Lan Kon Mueng (Townspeople Plaza)
At the heart of the quarter is LanKonMueng, in front of city hall. Every morning and evening, this is the recreational area of the locals, where they can exercise such as dance aerobics, jogging, stroll around, gather or just relax, bring children or pets out for a walk, and enjoy the breeze.
The Devasathan Shrine is the most important religious and ancient place for Hindus in Thailand. It was built in 1784 CE, during the reign of King Rama I. According to ancient tradition, it was built for holding officiating religious ceremonies in the past. Devasathan Shrine has many important sanctuaries: the Shiva and Parvati Shrine, the Brahma and Sarasvati Shrine, the Ganesha and Siddhi Shrine, and the Vishnu and Lakshmi Shrine.
The small temple of Lord Vishnu on Unakan Road, beside of Wat Suthat, was built in 1982, on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Rattanakosin, by the Indian-Thai Chamber of Commerce Association as a sign of the good relations between Thailand and India. The idol of Vishnu was brought from India.
An annual swinging ceremony known as Triyampavai-Tripavai was held at Giant Swings of major cities until 1935, when it was abolished for safety reasons. The name of the ceremony was derived from the names of two Tamil language Hindu chants: Thiruvempavai (a Shaivite hymn by Manikkavacakar) and Thiruppavai (a Vaishnavite hymn by Andal). Among Thai people, the ceremony was popularly known as Lo Jin Ja ("pulling the swing"). It is known that Tamil verses from Thiruvempavai — Sivalaya Vasal Thirappu ("opening the portals of Shiva's home") — were recited at this ceremony and verses from Tirupavai, as well as the coronation ceremony of the Thai king and queen. As said by T.P. Meenakshisundaram, the name of the festival shows that Thiruppavai has been recited as well.
According to ancient Hindu mythology, after Brahma created the world he sent Shiva to look after it. When Shiva descended to the earth, Naga serpents wrapped around the mountains in order to keep the earth in place. After Shiva found the earth solid, the Nagas moved to the seas in celebration and made the earth stable completely. The Swing Ceremony was a re-enactment of this. The pillars of the Giant Swing represented the mountains, while the circular base of the swing represented the earth and the seas. In the ceremony Brahamanas would swing, trying to grab a bag of coins placed on one of the pillars.
In popular culture
- The appearance of the Giant Swing is sometimes confused with unrelated gate structures in other Asian cultures:
- Daily News – Manager Online
- ThammaThai "WatSuthat" Retrieved 19 October 2013, , 2013
- Travel "PaiWaiSarnJaoPorSeu" Retrieved 19 October 2013, , 2013
- ศาลเจ้าพ่อเสือ Retrieved 17 April 2017,  , 2017
- Travel "Sao ching cha" Retrieved 18 October 2013, , 2013
- เทวสถาน Retrieved 17 April 2017, , 2017
- "กทม.จัดบวงสรวงใหญ่34ปี"พระวิษณุ"" [BKK organized a large tribute for 34 years”Lord Vishnu”]. Siam Rath (in Thai). 17 August 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- M. E. Manickavasagam Pillai (1986). Dravidian Influence in Thai Culture. Tamil University. p. 69.
- Upendra Thakur (1986). Some Aspects of Asian History and Culture. Abhinav. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-81-7017-207-9.
- Norman Cutler (1979). Consider Our Vow: Translation of Tiruppāvai and Tiruvempāvai Into English. Muttu Patippakam. p. 13.
- Geographic data related to Giant Swing at OpenStreetMap
- Information from the Bangkok Tourism Division
- Newspaper article on the 2005 restoration
- Brahminism in Thailand
- 2Bangkok on the 2005 renovation