Prayers to myth­i­cal princess in cave cri­sis

Daily News - - WORLD -

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)

PIC­TURE:

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.

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