The Shrine of Goddess Tubtim
A fertility shrine with a strong focus on the male phallus
So what the heck is the connection with the garden of children, the spirit house and the penis fetish? The Shrine of Goddess Tubtim is a fertility shrine. It was erected (that one is too easy) to honour Chao Mae Tubtim, the female fertility goddess. Women of all ages who are typically in the early stages of trying to start a family will pay their respects to Miss Tubtim. They bring with them offerings of white lotus buds & white jasmine flowers, and ask her in return to ensure a happy and healthy child will be conceived. Rumour has it that the success rate is astonishingly high! If the woman’s wish comes true, it is expected that she will return to the shrine with her own penis statue for Goddess Tubtim’s personal collection. That still doesn’t explain the spirit house – well, where else would you think a fertility goddess would want to hang out? There’s a small statue representation of Chao Mae Tubtim found within. Who doesn’t like hanging out with life sized statues of themselves?
Little is known about the origins of how this shrine came to be, or what started the practice of bringing the offerings or penises as thanks. All that is known is that at one point in it’s existence, the spirit house was constructed by Nai Lert, owner of the neighbouring hotel, for the spirit of Chao Mae Tubtim who was believed to live in the large Sai (Ficus) tree next to the hotel. This was probably to keep the Mae Tubtim happy and to not haunt or torment the hotel’s guests.This attraction is certainly out of character with the impression of the polite nature of Thais. However, these particular statues of phalluses are used as a symbol of good luck and fortune. Given that most of the world’s modern Buddhism has very close ties to Hinduism, not so surprisingly many rituals and practices are actually quite similar. These particular penis statues have their roots (Aussies might find that statement funny) with the Hindu god Shiva. The phalluses, locally known as ‘lingams’, are sold at many markets for protection, or as good luck amulets. In fact, it’s also believed that they can influence the cash flow of a business. You might occasionally find little penises next to cash registers, or even hanging from rear view mirrors in taxis! It would appear Miss Tubtim is not the only one with a penis fetish.
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Have you ever been to a fertility shrine before? Have you ever been to an attraction, or even religious place, which had such a strong focus on sex or the male (or female) phallus before? Please feel free to share your stories and opinions in the comment section below!