WHAT IS A "NAGA" IN THAILAND
Nāga , พยานาค
Nāga is the Sanskrit and Pāli word for a deity or class of entity or being, taking the form of a very great snake, Sea serpent — specifically the king cobra, found in Hinduism and Buddhism. A female nāga is a nāgī or nāginī.
In the great epic Mahabharata, the depiction of Nagas tends toward the negative, and they are portrayed as the deserving victims of the snake sacrifice and of predation by the eagle-king Garuda. The epic calls them "persecutors of all creatures", and tells us "the snakes were of virulent poison, great prowess and excess of strength, and ever bent on biting other creatures" (Book I: Adi Parva, Section 20). At the same time, nagas are important players in many of the events narrated in the epic, frequently no more evil nor deceitful than the other protagonists, and sometimes on the side of good.
The figure of the Naga is often seen in different forms in the temples and even on the prow of the Royal Barges as recently seen during the Royal Barge Procession for the handing over of the Kathin Robes to the monks by the Prince of Thailand at Wat Arun.
- excerpt courtesy of Thai Friends and Pictures