There’s a new craze in Thailand that we’ve heard a lot about in the past few days. It’s the “Child Angel” – lifelike dolls that people are buying and treating as if they were real children because of a belief that a real child’s spirit inhabits the doll and can bring good fortune to the owner. Candice spotted a lady carrying two dolls at a shopping mall a few weeks ago and then we saw one at a restaurant more recently. At first we weren’t sure what to make of these adults with dolls – was it just a couple of eccentric characters? But after a local airline announced that they would start selling tickets to the dolls – so that they can have their own seat and be served food and drink – it’s been all over the news and we’ve realized that it’s a full-blown fad.
It seems very strange from our perspective, but when you consider the Thais strong belief in spirits and their love of shopping and all things “cute,” it makes more sense.
It’s been interesting to observe the response to the recent news. The government quickly announced that airlines cannot issue tickets to non-humans and then raided shops selling these dolls and charged some of the owners with tax evasion. The role of Buddhist monks has also been controversial. Some temples are inviting people to bring the dolls for a blessing – and a head monk was quoted in the paper yesterday as saying that, while people should not worship the dolls, if raising them can help people be good, then it’s beneficial. Others are very critical of mixing Buddhist teaching with this kind of practice.
The director of the Department of Mental Health said that some people buy these dolls because they “want something that they can depend on. Psychology tells us that all of us will look for something that our mind and heart is lacking. Some people feel unhappy because something or someone is missing from their life. So they want something that they can put their trust in.” Amen!
You can read an article with pictures here.