Thais pray to famed shrine to avoid military conscription

5 April, 2019 12:00 AM printer

BANGKOK: A slim young recruit wearing make-up, new fathers, nervous lovers holding hands—diverse groups of Thais flocked to a famed Bangkok shrine this week offering prayers to avoid military conscription, reports AFP.

Every male citizen aged 21 in Thailand must participate in the country’s massive annual draft, which starts in April and sees an estimated 100,000 enlisted for up to two years.

It is a sensitive subject in military-run Thailand, and politicians opposing the junta in last month’s election suggested ending the mandatory practice.

While some draftees volunteer, others enter a lottery system where young men pluck coloured cards out of a box and wait nervously as a soldier reveals either a red slip—meaning they have been drafted—or the coveted black.

For young men dreading military service, the shrine of Ya Nak (“Grandmother Nak”) in the capital’s Wat Mahabut temple has become a popular pilgrimage.  

Represented by a golden statue of a woman with long black hair sitting cross-legged with a baby, Ya Nak is surrounded by gifts of flowers, toy cars, and traditional Thai clothing.