May 25, 2007

Keeping track of time ตอนที่ ๓

This is the third (and final, I believe) post in a miniseries on the origins behind the names of the days and months in thai. This go-round we'll delve into the mythology behind the colors traditionally associated with the days of the week.

Here's the rundown:
Sunday = red
Monday = yellow
Tuesday = pink
Wednesday = green
Thursday = orange
Friday = blue
Saturday = purple/black

Your color is the color associated with the day of the week you were born on (if you're not sure you can find here). I was born on Sunday, so my lucky color is red.

You may know that the king's color is yellow, because he was born on a Monday--everyone who has been here has seen the flags, and especially all the yellow shirts people wear. This is to honor the king, and while you'll see people wearing these yellow shirts every day, you'll see the most on Monday. As it happens, the crown prince was also born on a Monday, so yellow will be associated with the monarchy for a long while yet. Princess Sirindhorn was born on Saturday, so her flag is purple, and she is frequently seen wearing purple at public engagements.

(The future heir-apparent, the 2-year-old son of the prince, was born on a Friday, as was his grandmother Queen Sirikit, hence his color is blue. Blue has been associated with the monarchy since Rama VI, also born on Friday. The Thai flag was changed in 1917 from all red and white stripes to the current design with a blue stripe in the middle, to honor Rama VI. Every Thai schoolchild these days is taught that the colors of the Thai flag--red, white, blue--refer to nation, religion, and king, respectively.)

On to the legends, which all go back to the creation mythology of Hinduism. (
In Hindu mythology, the "Trimurti" is the trinity of deities who embody the three cosmic functions: creation, maintenance, and destruction. Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the maintainer, and Shiva is the destroyer.)

Sunday: According to legend, Shiva destroyed six lion-like creatures, called Rajasiha (Thai ราชสีห์), and wrapped the dust of their remains in a red cloth, dipped the cloth in ambrosia --the elixir of immortality--and created the sun. Wearing red on Sunday is believed to bring good fortune to the wearer.

Monday: In Monday's legend, Shiva took fifteen celestial maidens and pulverized them, took the dust and wrapped it in a yellow cloth, sprinkled it with ambrosia, and placed it in the sky as the moon. If you wear yellow on Monday, happiness and joy will come your way.

Tuesday: Tuesday, which I previously mentioned means, basically, "Mars day," Shiva took eight buffaloes, reduced them to dust, wrapped it in a pink cloth and sprinkled ambrosia, creating the god Mars. You will have good luck if you wear pink on Tuesday.

Wednesday: In this legend, Shiva pulverized seventeen elephants and wrapped their dust in a green cloth, dipping it in ambrosia and creating the god Mercury. Wear green on Wednesday to receive good health.

Thursday: Legend has it that on Thursday, Shiva turned nineteen hermits (ฤๅษี) into dust and wrapped it in an orange cloth, and, by sprinkling ambrosia on the cloth, created the god Jupiter. Wearing orange on Thursday is good luck.

Friday is the god Venus' day, who was created when a blue cloth containing the dust of twenty-one pulverized cows was dipped in ambrosia by Shiva. Good fortune awaits those who wear blue on Friday.

Last, but not least, is the legend of Saturday. Ten tigers were turned to dust by Shiva, wrapped in a black cloth and dipped in ambrosia. The god Saturn was created. Since then, black has become associated with death and misfortune, so Saturday's color has been changed to purple. Wear purple on Saturday for good luck, according to Thai tradition.

So what else do the colors mean in day-to-day life? Not unlike birthstones in some western cultures, your day of the week and its color are associated with you throughout your life.
There are also Thai spirit houses--small shrines placed outside of homes or other buildings--where oblations are regularly made, some folks will tie scarves around the base for the birthday colors of the heads of the household. And each weekday also has a specific posture of the Buddha associated with it (e.g. meditating, walking, etc.), so at Thai sacred sites you'll often find a row of seven smaller Buddha images in each day's posture. People can then make merit for the image of their birthday (ทำบุญประจำวันเกิด), either by donating money or pouring out sacred oil, or some other form of worship.

What's your color? Do you actually like to wear that color? :)

A couple of sources: id90
, thai-blogs


  1. I just started reading your blog, and I wish I had discovered it earlier, these are exactly the things I've always wanted to figure out about thailand.
    Anyway, have you heard the Thai god of Wednesday night? I'm not sure of the name, but I know that temples actually have 8 of those days of the week things.

  2. What's the source for these stories? This is fascinating.