Prayers to mythical princess in cave crisis
MAE SAI (Thailand): Along a muddy mountain path not far from the entrance to a flooded cave where 12 young members of a Thai soccer team have been missing for four days is a shrine to a mythical princess whose spirit is said to inhabit the caverns below.
Visitors come to kneel down, light candles and incense and pray in front of a statue of a young woman wearing a pink traditional outfit, surrounded by flowers and other offerings.
For days, the wish has been a simple one: Please let our boys come home.
The youngsters aged 11 to 16 have been missing since their 25-year-old coach took them to the sprawling cave on Saturday after a practice match.
Rescuers led by navy divers have been frustrated by incessant rain and flooding that has slowed their search.
The statute is of Jao Mae Nang Non – which roughly translates as the reclining goddess – and her name is shared with the cave, Tham Luang Nang Non, as well as the surrounding mountain, Doi Nang Non.
Her legend, and how her spirit came to linger in the cave in Chiang Rai province’s Mae Sai district near Myanmar, is similar to dozens of other tales across a country whose belief system and folklore are heavily influenced by Brahmin, Buddhist and animist traditions.
It also speaks to the spiritual and mythical significance that caves hold in the nation, where the ordeal of the soccer players has spawned an outpouring of media coverage of ghost stories and supernatural explanations for the incident.
The legend goes that in ancient times a princess fell in love with a stable boy and became pregnant. Knowing their love was forbidden, they fled and settled in the cave to rest. When the stable boy went out in search of food, he was caught by the princess’s father’s army and killed.
Distraught, the princess stabbed herself and bled to death in the cave. The legend says it is her blood that became the water that flows through the cave, while her body is the surrounding mountains, said to look like a sleeping woman. – Associated Press/African News Agency (ANA)
Rescue personnel search for alternate entrances to a cave where 12 boys of a soccer team and their coach went missing in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. Rain is continuing to fall and water levels keep rising inside a cave in northern Thailand,...
Prayer offerings are displayed as rescue workers continue the search for the boys.