Friday, 13 July 2007


In the beginning, the people of the land enjoyed bountiful harvests, there was rice aplenty in the fields and fish filled the waters. Life was good. In reaping the bountiful of the Gods, the people of the land took the bounties for granted and no longer paid tribute to the Gods. The rain God decided to punish the people of the land and decreed that no rain shall fall from the heaven for seven years, seven months and seven days. As the river and rice field dried up, death and devastation took its toll upon the people, decimating the population. In desperation, the people took their suffering to the court of the King of the Toads. Phrayanark was then a young member of the court and upon hearing of the sufferings that the people had endured: he went to war with the Rain God. However his skills were no match for a God and he returned in defeat, himself near death as a result of the many wounds he received. Taking pity upon his impulsive but well meaning Phrayanark , the King of the Toads transformed his multitude of wounds into invincible scales and granted him special powers, matching that of a God. With his wounds healed and together with an army of scorpion, centipedes and ants, Phrayanark defeated the Rain God.

In victory he sought three conditions from his vanquished enemy: that the rains were to fall freely upon the lands of the people once more, that when the people of the land needed rain, they should fire rockets into the heavens and the Rain God on seeing this will shower the land with rain and when enough rain had fallen, the people should imitate the sound of croaking toads for the rains to stop. Once again, the lakes and rivers were filled with water and the rice fields brought forth-bountiful harvests. Life was good once again.

Phrayanark with his new powers, reigned as God of Waterways of the Underworld rejoiced with the people but he still felt unfulfilled. Deep down inside, Phrayanark longed for only one thing, to be ordained a monk. This however was impossible as the Lord Buddha had decreed that only humans can be ordained monks and Phrayanark although a ruler of the Waterways of the Underworld, was still a serpent! In desperation, Phrayanark hid his scales and transformed himself into a human seeking monkshood. However his powers were not strong enough to maintain his human form and he was exposed.

Upon hearing of this the Lord Buddha summoned Phrayanark and forbade him to ever walk among humans again. Greatly saddened, Phrayanark asked for one wish to be granted in return for his giving up his desire, that all novice monks before attaining full monk status be known as Nark. Lord Buddha agreed and to this present day, all novice monks are called Nark.
The Phrayanark ( or Naga) Fireball is an annual Phenomenon in Thailand that has been taking place for longer than the locals care to remember. Every year, on the last day of the Buddhist Lent in October, glowing balls of light mysteriously appear out the Mekong River in the district of Phon Pisai of Nong Khai province.

Sculptures of Phrayanark are commonly found at the entrance of temples of “wats” as they are believed to ward off evils. Locals have reported seeing hundreds of these balls disappearing skyward throughout the night. Legend has it that the fiery balls are Phrayanark’s ( Serpent Lord of the Waterways of the Underworld) of paying tribute to the Lord Buddha on the last day of the Buddhist Lent.

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