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Known to Thais as Wat Khaek, the Sri Maha Marriaman Hindu temple is quite the attention grabber when walking down Silom Road.
The outside towers and walls show an elaborate intertwining of Hindu deities, and the footpaths surrounding the temple burst with vendors selling flower garlands and fruit to be offered to a sacred image of the mother goddess.
Built in the 1860s by immigrants from Tamil Nadu, Sri Maha Marriaman is the most notable of Bangkok's Hindu temples. It anchors a part of the Silom area that can be thought of as the city's second Little India, distinct from Pahurat's predominantly Sikh community. You'll hear Indian music pumping from streetside CD vendors and see Indian sweets sold at the many Indian-owned shops and eateries nearby.
The temple is dedicated to Maha Mariamman (aka Maha Devi), the female creator/destroyer godess who is also believed to have the power to protect against disease and misfortune. The temple's central shrine image is associated with creativity, fertility and femininity. It's considered extremely sacred and white-robed Brahmans accept continual offerings from the faithful -- many of them Thai Buddhists -- when the temple is open. The Brahmans place a red splotch, or bindi, on the foreheads of all who give offerings. While most offer only flower garlands and fruit, those making bigger wishes may offer a whole pig's head.
The temple holds special ceremonies in accordance with the moon, and each year in late October the Maha Mariamman image is paraded through the area's streets to much fanfare during a very colourful festival. The temple is considered very sacred -- no photography is prohibited inside the walls and proper attire is required.
How to get there
On the corner of Silom and Pan Road, about a five-minute walk from either Surasak or Chong Nonsi BTS stations.