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Cultural Insights: Big tree, bad luck!

Superstitions may not seem to have a place in the modern world of science and technology, but in Thailand they still thrive, especially among the elderly, whose wisdom is steeped in ancient beliefs.

By Nattapat Tuarob

Monday 16 March 2015, 08:00AM

Not all of Thailand’s old superstitions are completely bogus, and some may even have some logical basis in science.

In today’s column, I’d like to talk about one old Thai belief that growing large trees at a private residence can bring one bad luck on its residents.

According to the belief, such large trees should only be planted in spacious and sacred places such as temples.

This is why you usually only find the sacred Bodhi tree – also known as the Banyan tree or Hopea odorata , or Ta-khian tree (Ton Pho in Thai) – at the local wat, and rarely will you find one at someone’s private residence.

Thais have long believed that if you plant this kind of tree at a private residence, it will bring bad luck to that house and its inhabitants.


These trees grow quite large, their height can reach 30 metres in height and beyond, with the trunk’s diameter growing to three meters. Consider what’s going on underground.

If you grow this tree too close to your home, the roots will expand under the house which will surely harm the foundation of the house in the future.

Moreover, the roots are hard to demolish and the trees have a long life, which can be determined from tree ring dating.

Back to the supernatural side of things, it is believed that these trees serve as abodes for angels and other powerful spirits possessing a certain power that ordinary people can not live around.

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