Friday, February 1, 2013

Churning the Ocean of Milk - A Tribute to the Year of the Snake

To commerate the year of the snake, I dug into my archive of photos from my travels. I've not been to Bangkok for a while, so in June 2011 after  passing through Immigration at Suvarnabhumi Airport, I was pleasantly surprised by a huge colourful scene of 'The Churning of the Ocean of Milk'. This scene has its roots in Hinduism and is found in the ancient Purana scriptures. Due to a curse from an offended sage, the Devas (demi-gods) lost their divine powers and thus sought to regain it by getting hold of amrita, the nectar of immortality. They came up with an elaborate scheme which involved forging an alliance with the Asuras (Demons) to churn up the ocean of milk in order to retrieve it. For this purpose, they used Vasuki, the seven-headed serpent (cobra) as a churning rope by coiling it around Mount Mandara as a pivot and tugged at it from both ends.

The section of the serpent, Vasuki, with the seven heads ...

was held by the Asuras (demons).

The Devas were well-advised by Vishnu not to take this end. 

The mid-section of Vasuki was coiled round Mount Mandara which acted as a pivot. The resulting force from the churning was so great that eventually Mt Mondara broke off and sank. Vishnu through his avatar, Kurma the tortoise bore up the mountain.

On the other side, the tail end of Vasuki ...

was held by the Devas which was a smart move as they avoided the poisonous fumes from the seven roaring mouths of Vasuki.

Eventually a total of 14 precious objects and treasures were retrieved. The culmination was the nectar of immortality which was delivered by Dhanvantari, the physician of the Gods. As the nectar was coveted by both parties, a fracas broke out and it ended up in the hands of the Asuras.

Vishnu then saved the situation by turning into Mohini the enchantress. Through her shenanigans she managed to snatch it away from them and fed it to the Devas who then regained their divine powers of immortality.

Besides this huge fabled display, the airport was decorated with beautiful flowers. Orchids were seen all over the airport but the massive display near the entrance was the most impressive. 

Purple Phalaepnopsis

Yellow Oncidium and white Phalaepnopsis


Yellow Dendrobiums

Orchid varieties


A variety of ginger plants, Curcuma, at the entrance of the airport.

View of Suvarnabhumi Airport from the runway.

A greeting card for 2013. 


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