Encounter with Rahu

rahu candleIn the Hindu/Buddhist cosmos, eclipses are conceived of and anticipated in terms of the points of intersection of the paths of the Sun and the Moon as they move across the sky.  Rahu is the name for the north lunar node which, in mythological representation, is the Asura (Demon) Rahu who  regularly swallows and ejects the sun, causing its cyclic obscuration. In Thai custom, Phra Rahu, who is considered to be the essence of darkness and the harbinger of ill fortune, is ritually placated with various black offerings that are believed to mitigate his maleficence. People make offerings  of black grapes, black liqueur, black coffee beans, black jelly, black beans, black sticky rice, black Thai cake and black fermented eggs. In the course of my performance, at the Huai Khwang Shrine, I lit a black candle for him and then made a special offering Black herbal jelly in the form of  the Suriyan (the Sun) or as he is know in Thailand, Phra Athit.



Suriyan Jelly

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At the heart of the Bangkok Biennale edition of Cowboys and Indians is an antique terracotta of Suriyan from South India with which I re-enact the mythic entanglement of Phra Rahu and Phra Hanuman. In the Hindu/Buddhist cosmos, Suriyan (the Sun) is the central Graha of the Navagrahas or 9 planets. He is an emanation of Lord Vishnu the sustainer and nourisher of the material universe. In Thailand the Navagraha are known as the Nopakroh and Suryian is known as Phra Athit. For the performance  a  food-grade silicone mould was made from the terracotta and from this mould a Black herbal jelly Suryan was made and offered to Phra Rahu.