Once again the exoticism of Thailand’s culture has startled the world, but this time even Thais are scratching their heads.
Why, on earth, are the red-shirted protesters who descended on Bangkok at the weekend pouring blood at government buildings?
The demonstrators, who largely travelled from Thailand’s rural Northeast to agitate for ex-premier Thaksin Shinawatra, aim to collect 1,000,000 ml of their blood for eye-grabbing protests at Government House, the Democrat Party HQ and the Prime Minister’s home.
The blog www.somtow.org provides some alternative explanations of what precisely they are up to:
First, there’s the Cambodian Theory, which states that pouring the blood on the headquarters of the government is a Cambodian plot to ensure the return of Thaksin.
Second, a theory propounded by the chairperson of the Thai astrologers’ society, which is that this is simple sympathetic magic in order to gain victory and the sort of thing anyone would do under the circumstances.
Third, someone has come up with a historical basis: in the reign of King Naresuan, apparently this ceremony was performed, bathing the King’s feet with the enemy’s blood and letting it soak into the soil.
But while Somtow remains perplexed, the blood protest at least shows a reassuring commitment to non-violence.
Which deserves credit. In effect, the red shirts won Thailand‘s last election. They can understandably feel peeved that some dubious legal judgments and backroom deals have kept their leaders out of power.