Thais turn to 'child angel' dolls as economy struggles

Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:34am EST
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By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Juarawee Kittisilpa

BANGKOK (Reuters) - A craze for lifelike dolls thought to bring good luck is sweeping Thailand, reflecting widespread anxiety as the economy struggles and political uncertainty persists nearly two years after a coup.

Thailand is predominantly Buddhist and has been modernizing rapidly over the past two or three decades but many people are highly superstitious, their Buddhist beliefs co-existing with notions of animism, astrology and "black magic".

The plastic dolls, about the size of a real baby, are called "look thep", or "child angel".

Devotees buy them in shops or online and invite benevolent spirits to possess them, hoping they will bring good luck.

"The economy is bad right now. Everybody needs something to hold on to," said Mananya Boonmee, 49, a doll owner and seller.

Mananya told Reuters her doll, called Nong Petch, or baby jewel, had helped her win the lottery by telling her what numbers to buy in her dreams.

Panpimon Wipulakorn, deputy director-general of the Department of Mental Health, said the economic downturn exacerbated the phenomenon.

"There have always been groups in Thai society that hold such beliefs and economic worries only help to heighten these beliefs," Panpimon told Reuters.   Continued...

Devotees pay respect to a Buddhist monk as they sit with their "child angel" dolls during a blessing ritual at Wat Bua Khwan temple in Nonthaburi, Thailand, January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha