How to express your gratitude when your prayer had been answered? Of course by lightning some firecrackers. At least, this is how it’s done in Wat Chalong.
Wat Chalong was not on our short list of places to visit in Phuket. We came from Chiang Mai which is a home for about 300 temples: large and small, old and new, intricately ornate and fairly plain… In a while, it is inevitable to develop a temple fatigue, so to speak. I’ve had a similar experience in the Dali Museum in Florida, US. I love Salvador Dali but after walking into 5th room full of his works I could not take it anymore. Everything is good in moderation. Remembering this rule, we were planning to pass on any temple-related activities in Phuket. However, our driver had a different idea. After 3 unsuccessful attempts to get us interested in visiting Wat Chalong he just simply dropped us off there. Letting him having his way, we decided to aimlessly wander around for half an hour.
Suddenly, we heard loud cracking sounds. Since usually the temple grounds are quiet and visitors are respectful, these sounds were even more surprising. Following them by ear, we ended up in front of a beehive-like clay structure puffing out some white smoke. Shortly, it exploded with shattering noise again. That’s when we noticed that some locals placed and ignited firecrackers inside the structure. Nobody tried to stop them or acted surprised, so we assumed that it was some kind of a ritual. Certainly, we haven’t encountered anything like this in any other temple.
Our first uneducated guess was that this is how they chase away demons and unwelcome deities. Wrong. As we later learned, the firecrackers are ignited in gratitude of an answered prayer. Judging by the noise of endless explosions on the day of our visit, the positive outcome of prayers in Wat Chalong must be pretty high.
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