Freud had talked about penis envy, but have you ever been to a place where the penis is not only longed for, but actually worshiped? Welcome to the fertility shrine in Bangkok!
The entrance to the shrine has quite a number of these laughing children, another sign pointing to the purpose of the small shrine. There’s a small altar right at the path, with the (more) interesting objects placed just around it.
Strictly speaking, it’s actually not the penis, but a Goddess called Mae Tubtim who’s being worshiped in the shrine.
Legend has it that the Goddess lived inside a big tree. A developer named Lert Sreshthaputa (“Nai Lert”) who was also a nature lover built a spirit house near the tree, where worshipers brought their offerings.
From the usual incense sticks, white jasmine flowers, and lotus buds, worshipers also brought hundreds of phallus-shaped objects, which, in Thailand, is a good luck symbol.
There are rotting wooden ones…
…and a rusted one that resembles a cannon, with two cannon balls symbolizing, well, the balls.
There’s a “gem-encrusted” penis…
…while lots were made of stone or concrete.
There are penises resembling pigs…
…and one that looks like it had grown a monkey with it.
There are realistic-looking objects, too…
…as well as double-headed ones.
Aside from the penises, there are food offerings and a lot of these small figurines, which are said to symbolize protective spirits brought there to keep the area safe.
As soon as I had heard of this shrine, I made it a point to go visit, not because I wanted to avail of the Goddess’s blessings, but to appreciate all the offerings. After all, these objects are a work of art, right?
How to go to the Fertility Shrine:
It’s very easy to find the Fertility Shrine (others call it the Penis Shrine) in Bangkok. Take the BTS and get off at the Phloen Chit station. Walk towards the Wave Place Shopping Mall and turn right. You can walk all the way to the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park (7 minutes) or take the motorcycle taxi.
When you arrive at the Swissôtel Nai Lert Park, just go inside the compound. The shrine is at the back of the hotel, right by the river. It’s free.