BANGKOK – A woman shopping in a Bangkok street carrying and talking with an infant on her arm might not catch much attention. But look again…
Det-a-duh Nachariyanukul, is the owner of a well-known Child Angels shop entitled “Ban Look Thep.” He said that Child Angels were factory-manufactured dolls but had been blessed by monks and were being used as some kind of amulet for attracting good fortune.
The main thought behind child angels was that they brought people closer to the temple where the magical doll could be used to make merit.
Det-a-duh said the dolls used as child angels were first around some 50 years ago and with no intention for them to be magical charms. But his business took off about six years ago with many customers being middle-aged women or lonely people who needed something for company.
The magical dolls were swamped “interested” by social’ media after DJ Bookkoh Thannatchayapan from 94FM posted his picture with a doll, claiming it brought him success in previous events. The trend was taken up by many celebrities and university students.
People could get their magical doll for prices ranging from Bt100 to Bt10,000 depending on the quality of material. Some limited dolls were first brought for Bt10,000 but now attract more than Bt100,000 – like valuable antiques.
Det-a-duh also thanks the media for continuing to spread good or bad news about child angels or questioning about his business.
“The media or other social users who might hate or not favour the idea of a child angel, play a key role in putting this magical doll back among this year’s trends,” he added.
He also mentioned that people should notice there were several shops providing a similar doll with similar ideas of bringing luck, but treated their dolls differently, like having a plate of food served up for them in a restaurant.
“I could speak only on behalf of my shop that the faithful buyer doesn’t need to give their doll food, or take it outside. But if they do, it’s all about their personal thoughts. I have always told my clients that such an item needs only a good merit to keep it powerful,” he explained.
Thai Smile Air, have also agreed to serve their new bookings with on-board drinks and food – with several restaurants in Bangkok also announcing that they will serve children’s meals to the life-like dolls.
According to the airline’s statement, it said its charge was for serving its clients’ needs according to an increase in demand. However, the child angels are strictly allowed to be booked for only window seats and not allowed seats in emergency exits in order not to disturb other passengers.
Det-a-duh commented that such promotions were just a way of businesses trying not to lose track of public feelings.
Jedsada Chokdamrongsuk, director-general of the Mental Health Department, said on Monday that Thai people’s tendency to believe in the supernatural, to seek something their mind could rely on, and to follow changing fashions had led to the popularity of such dolls.
As there were shops selling clothing and jewellery and offering beauty services for such dolls, Dr Jedsada said, he did not see adherents as being mentally ill.
But he felt people would be better advised adhering to religions, which had clear origins and were credible, and accept that blessings come from doing good deeds.
Dr Yongyud Wongpiromsarn, advisory head of the department, said while belief could boost morale it should be based on the reality that personal success came from hard work, good planning and careful spending.
Celebrities and social media were used to influence people and believers in superstitions could be lured into paying out a lot of money, he said. He hoped the Child Angel fad would soon fade away.
He ordered immigration police at airports and border checkpoints to carefully examine such Child Angel dolls.
Chula Sukmanop, director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, said that he would convene a meeting of Thai-registered airlines and airport operators in a few days to discuss standard procedures to handle passengers with Child Angel dolls.
“Without a standard, if passengers carry on look thep dolls aboard airplanes and cause a problem or unexpected incident in the way that affects air safety, that may affect efforts to solve the red flag and significant security concern of the International Civil Aviation Organisation,” he said.
The procedures could range from check-in x-ray examination to the proper practices of keeping the dolls on board, he said.